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Inspired by a dream of Queen Elizabeth II and verses from the Book of Revelations, Johnny Cash's "When the Man Comes Around" embodies everything that's great about the Man in Black, from the authority he brings to his recitations to the vibrancy of the writing to the anxiety-ridden Judgment Day atmosphere evoked by an insistently strummed acoustic guitar and a gospel piano. It's the second great new song Cash has introduced this year, following "Tears on the Holston River," from Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. III, and it's hands-down the highlight of American IV, the latest in Cash's collaborations with producer Rick Rubin. But there are a lot of close seconds here, including Cash canon favorites such as "Give My Love to Rose" -- reprised as a dirge, the mise en scène set by a flat-picked acoustic guitar and a wall of moody chords, courtesy of Benmont Tench on harmonium -- and "Sam Hall," which he originally recorded for 1965's grand Sings the Ballads of the True West, in which the title character gleefully recounts the events leading up to his hanging for murder ("I'll see you all in hell/damn your eyes!"). Not surprisingly, murder, redemption, and the Old West figure prominently throughout, in Cash's own songs and in some interesting covers, such as Sting's "I Hung My Head," a murderer's repentance on the day of his hanging, and the Eagles' well-thumbed "Desperado," with Don Henley adding a guest vocal. With keyboardist Tench augmenting the acoustic lineup, there's hardly a moment that isn't captivating in mood alone, whether it's the slow-building crescendo mounting behind Cash's bleak reading of Trent "Nine Inch Nails" Reznor's "Hurt" or the plaintive organ lines providing the sole support to a forthright take on "Danny Boy." Fiona Apple adds an expressive vocal to Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge over Troubled Water," Nick Cave wobbles through Hank Williams's "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," and a mess of folks billed as "The Whole Cash Gang" sign off the album with a touching, folk-flavored rendition of the poignant pop classic "We'll Meet Again." All that's left to say is, I hope so.
Performance CreditsJohnny Cash Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Marty Stuart Acoustic Guitar
Nick Cave Vocals
Don Henley Vocals
Mike Campbell Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Benmont Tench Organ,Piano,Harmonium,Mellotron,Vibes,Pipe organ,Wurlitzer
Thom Bresh Acoustic Guitar
Jack Clement Dobro
David Ferguson Ukulele
John Frusciante Acoustic Guitar
Terry Harrington Clarinet
Randy Scruggs Acoustic Guitar
Smokey Hormel Acoustic Guitar,Slide Guitar
Kerry Marx Acoustic Guitar
Joey Waronker Drums
Fiona Apple Vocals
Roger Manning Piano,Harmonium,Mellotron,chamberlain,Orchestra Bells,Tack Piano
John Carter Cash Vocals
Laura Cash Fiddle,Vocals
Jeff Hannah Acoustic Guitar
Technical CreditsJohnny Cash Liner Notes
Richard Thompson Composer
David Ferguson Engineer
Rick Rubin Producer
Thom Russo Engineer
Christine Cano Art Direction
Andrew Scheps Engineer
John Carter Cash Engineer
Chuck Turner Engineer
Ross Parker Composer
Frederick Edward Weatherly Composer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Hurt is like the best song in the hole world. It is very emotional. i lov it!!
Cash keeps his promise with another authentic presentation of song and story. No gimmicks - just him - and that's plenty! Great mix of vulnerability & strength on this album. Great!
At 70 or late 60's the voice is not as strong as it once was, but it is still strong. Good production from Rick Rubin and backup from a good part of The Heartbreakers is strong but minimal, maximizing the interpretations. excellent but not awsome.