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American III: Solitary Man

American III: Solitary Man

4.8 6
by Johnny Cash

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In the time since the release of his last album, Unchained, Johnny Cash's ongoing battle with life-threatening Shy-Drager syndrome has led many to assume that the Man in Black's days as a recording artist were over. But Cash has never been one to go down without a fight, and this impressive collection offers ample evidence of Cash's personal and musical


In the time since the release of his last album, Unchained, Johnny Cash's ongoing battle with life-threatening Shy-Drager syndrome has led many to assume that the Man in Black's days as a recording artist were over. But Cash has never been one to go down without a fight, and this impressive collection offers ample evidence of Cash's personal and musical resilience. Both the covers and the new Cash originals on Solitary Man share a mix of world-weariness and fierce defiance that are underlined by Cash's heartbroke baritone and spare guitar accompaniment. Tom Petty's "Won't Back Down" is a fitting declaration of determination, while other songs make it clear that the fight hasn't been an easy one. U2's "One," Will Oldham's "I See a Darkness," Nick Cave's "The Mercy Seat," and the bleak folk ballad "Mary of the Wild Moor" tell stories of wrenching loneliness and yearning, and Cash's iconic vocals drive their points home with haunting immediacy. Although the artist stands alone in many of the trials portrayed in these songs, he's got plenty of talented friends lending support on this album. Wife June Carter Cash is featured, as are Tom Petty, Merle Haggard, and Sheryl Crow, although Cash still casts such a large shadow that one will have to listen very closely to hear anyone else.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Zac Johnson
The Man in Black shows hints of gray on American III: Solitary Man, his first studio album since being interrupted by a series of serious illnesses in 1997. While the inevitability of aging has been the downfall of many of his contemporaries, Johnny Cash's dark convictions and powerful presence have gone from rough hardwood to solid stone. The stark beauty of his 1994 release American Recordings and the warm, friendly collaborations on 1996's Unchained combine to create two distinct moods: one of living-room jam sessions with invited friends, and another of stark solo (and near-solo) songs highlighting Cash's years and stories. Partnering once again with Tom Petty, the two join together on Petty's own "I Won't Back Down" and the Neil Diamond-penned title track. Cash also lays his lonesome hands on U2's "One" and reunites with fellow outlaw Merle Haggard on the stubborn "I'm Leavin' Now." These duets and well-known covers show an inviting side of Johnny Cash. But the real highlights of the album are those reminiscent of his American Recordings songs; they feature just the man and his guitar, with nothing else to clutter the story. The creaks and despair of the vaudeville song "Nobody" tell of a man who has become hardened by his solitude, while the Palace hymn "I See a Darkness" soars with the passion of a thousand gospel choirs, even though there are only two men singing. Although at times it is difficult to hear past Tom Petty's growl or Sheryl Crow's young harmonies in the more popular songs Cash covers, these obscure prison songs and country ballads sound as honest and heartfelt as his own compositions. At age 68, his warm baritone may waver but his passion never does.
Entertainment Weekly - David Browne
Though the Man in Black has rarely sounded blacker, producer Rick Rubin frames that deep-sea voice with harmonies and churchy organs, making for a dark-angel beauty of an album that's austere but welcoming.

Product Details

Release Date:
Lost Highway


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Johnny Cash   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals
Norman Blake   Guitar
Marty Stuart   Guitar
Merle Haggard   Guitar,Vocals
Tom Petty   Organ,Vocals
Mike Campbell   Guitar
Sheryl Crow   Accordion,Vocals
Benmont Tench   Organ,Piano,Harmonium
June Carter Cash   Vocals
Larry Perkins   Guitar
Randy Scruggs   Guitar
Will Oldham   Vocals
Laura Cash   Fiddle

Technical Credits

Johnny Cash   Arranger,Producer,Liner Notes,Adaptation
Edge   Composer
Bono   Composer
Adam Clayton   Composer
David Coleman   Art Direction
Richard Dodd   Engineer
David Ferguson   Engineer
Haven Gillespie   Composer
Larry Mullen   Composer
Rick Rubin   Producer
David Schiffman   Engineer
Harry Beasley Smith   Composer
D. Sardy   Engineer
John Carter Cash   Arranger,Adaptation
Traditional   Composer
Lou Robin   Management

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American III: Solitary Man 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I borrowed this from the library, and as soon as I pay my next credit card bill, I'm going to buy it. At least if my Christmas hints don't do the trick. In a culture, both musical and general, that tends to look with horror and fear at the aging process and at our mortality, this guy makes you wonder why. He seems to face both with enviable dignity and grace. The late, great Mr. Cash does rock and roll (in an "unplugged" form), country, folk, blues...etc. proud. He is one of a handful of artists we have (we still have the music, the movie, which is great by the way, and the personality of the man to draw on) that transcends musical boundaries and makes one remember that good music is good music, no matter what the supposed genre box we think of it as coming from or fitting into. Song selection is great, much of it reflecting the dignity and character of a man staring down both life and death (Cash was getting close to the void, the next world, or whatever you want to call it, and knew it well--no denial going on, just clear eyed searching for meaning in life and death alike). The first two tracks need no introduction for many, and the titles sum up their themes, which, in Cashes hands, are haunting and perhaps singularly believable. Come to think of it, "haunting" fits every track, and more so each time you hear it. Once you get used to them, I would say there are no weak songs to let down the album, and it sure makes a more coherent "concept" album than Sargent Pepper, or any other album I can think of (I love the Beatles, don't get me wrong). The voice may quaver or sound fragile at times, but that only adds to the atmosphere in an album that often alludes to struggle, loss, and death. If it is true that one needs to know how to deal with the idea of death in order to live well, and how to live well in order to face death, this fellow can teach us all a thing or two. The record (CD) is not morbid, to my mind, despite death and loss being frequently alluded to. Mostly, it gives you strength. The song, "That Lucky Old Sun," where a slaving worker envies the sun rolling around heaven all day, is even more effective in Cash's hands than the other version I know, that by Ray Charles--with subtle clever, ironic touches by Cash that were not in Ray's version. "One" is the beautiful song by U2. You can hear it hear without excess loud guitar droning you would have to deal with on one of their albums. "Nobody" is a funny in a sad kind of way, or sad in a funny kind of way, Vaudeville number. "I See a Darkeness" is beautiful and moving. The singer sings of finding some kind of "peace, alone or with our wives," and stopping their "whoring" and other idiocies where we become isolated from or treat one another (and ourselves) like objects. You would not think there would be a more gripping song on the album, but then comes "The Mercy Seat." It is about dying in the electric chair, as sung by the one doing the dying. The song manages to be as complex and ambiguous (about the guy's guilt, even allowing a humorous, yet not out of place, wink or two by Cash) as the film Dead Man Walking, or, in a less subtle way, Cash's own "Fulsom Prison Blues," first recorded in his first glory days at Sun. "Lay Me Down (In a Field of Stone)" is about what you think it's about, only not really, since it is a man asking a woman to "swim" with him "in the river of life." In other words it's about things like loyalty and unconditional love. The remainder of the songs each make their own contribution to the album, with themes of hardship, love (of partners, but also of music), and our relationship to the hereafter. The contributions of a few fellow travelers, some with big names, is, thank God, completely unobtrusive, and does not sound like the calculated and forced pairings one often encounters
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cash turns in another Grammy Award winning effort with fine musical instrumentation, & guest appearances like Sheryl Crow, Tom Petty, Merle Haggard, Marty Stuart, & Randy Scruggs. Highlights: ''I See A Darkness'', ''One'', ''Wayfaring Stranger'', ''Would You Lay With Me'' (In A Field Of Stone) 5 Stars: *****
Guest More than 1 year ago
I purchased this when it was released lat year. It has some great covers of some other artist and some great originals by the man in black well worth the purchase.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago