American VI: Ain't No Grave

American VI: Ain't No Grave

by Johnny Cash


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Released for the occasion of Johnny Cash's 78th birthday, American VI: Ain't No Grave is the final installment in the collaboration between Cash and Rick Rubin that began with 1994's American Recordings. These ten songs were cut during the same sessions for American V: A Hundred Highways. Guitarists Mike Campbell, Matt Sweeney, Smokey Hormel, and Benmont Tench on keyboards were present, as were other musicians. June Carter Cash died during routine surgery during these sessions. Cash, though grief stricken and with full knowledge that he too was dying due to complications from Parkinson's disease, worked as often as his health would allow. He died three months after these songs were recorded. Ain't No Grave is an elegiac and deeply spiritual album, a formal goodbye without regret from a man and an artist of almost mythic stature. The song selection is rooted in the Americana, folk, country, and gospel traditions. There is an excellent reading of Tom Paxton's "Wonder Where I'm Bound" that doesn't feel as lost as the original, but more a statement after reflecting on a life fully lived. Likewise his version of Sheryl Crow's "Redemption Day" sums up Cash's own long commitment to social justice, and the need for individual accountability; its statement of hope is underscored here not as a dream, but as a conviction. Kris Kristofferson's "For the Good Times" begins with the words: "Don't look so sad, I know it's over/But life goes on/And this ole world will keep on turning." It offers a portrait of the dignity and grace Cash performed with all his life. "I Corinthian's 15:55" is his last self-penned song, a sweet, country-gospel melody that echoes far beyond the margins of contemporary music to an earlier time, and looks at the future with unshakable faith. The title track is a country-gospel-blues by Brother Claude Ely -- it's a fierce showdown with the Reaper, with the singer winning it hands down. There are excellent covers of Bob Nolan's "Cool Water," a song Cash often sang live that expresses empathy for the downtrodden, and "Satisfied Mind," written by Jack Rhodes and Red Hayes, played on a lone acoustic guitar, which dispenses the truth of earthly life into two-minutes-and-forty-eight seconds. Ed McCurdy's "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream" is a true anti-war song that serves as a testimonial. The album's final cut is Queen Liliuokalani's traditional Hawaiian ballad "Aloha Oe," one of the sweetest, most affectionate leaving songs ever written. And Cash's version? It's devastatingly beautiful; to the point of tears. If there were any justice, Ain't No Grave would be the last album released under Cash's name. It is not only a compelling contribution to his legacy, but an offering that closes the historic American Recordings series with the same stamp of quality that began it.

Product Details

Release Date: 02/23/2010
Label: American Recordings
UPC: 0602527315621
catalogNumber: 001395402
Rank: 4523

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Johnny Cash   Primary Artist
Marty Stuart   Musician
Mac Wiseman   Musician
Pat McLaughlin   Musician
Mike Campbell   Guitar
Larry Gatlin   Musician
Mark Howard   Musician
Mickey Raphael   Musician
Benmont Tench   Organ,Piano,Harpsichord
June Carter Cash   Musician
Jack Clement   Musician
Dennis Crouch   Musician
Mike Leach   Musician
Larry Perkins   Musician
Randy Scruggs   Musician
Pete Wade   Musician
Reggie Young   Musician
Smokey Hormel   Guitar
Jonny Polonsky   Guitar
Matt Sweeney   Guitar
Laura Cash   Musician
Scott Avett   Banjo
Seth Avett   Foot Stomping
Uncle Josh Graves   Musician
Dave Roe   Musician
Jonny Polosky   Guitar

Technical Credits

Johnny Cash   Composer
Kris Kristofferson   Composer
Ed McCurdy   Composer
Tom Paxton   Composer
Tom Jones   Composer
Don Robertson   Composer
Sheryl Crow   Composer
David Ferguson   Engineer
Rick Rubin   Producer
Bob Nolan   Composer
Christine Cano   Art Direction
Greg Fidelman   Engineer
Jack Rhodes   Composer
Jack Rollins   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Joe "Red" Hayes   Composer
Red Hayes   Composer
Queen Lydia Lili'uokalani   Composer

Customer Reviews

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American VI: Ain't No Grave 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NathanJefferson More than 1 year ago
Coming to the end of the road.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like the other albums in this series, the music in this one is soul reaching. It is about a fact of life, death. And only Johnny Cash could put his own touch on this. It is well done and a master piece of music that will live on through generations.
rickbsn More than 1 year ago
This was the most meaningful album I have ever heard. You can almost hear the Sadness of Mr Cash having lost his wife and his soon departure to join her. I have listened over and over again to this truly great Cd. I highly recommend it, The feeling he puts into these songs is amazing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Long time fan of Johnny Cash, but did not like this music at all. Found it very depressing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What can you say other than the headline. It is haunting and at the same time soothing to listen to.
bigAAF More than 1 year ago
Bad music from a former great!
CashFan More than 1 year ago
The last installment in the "American" recordings by Johnny Cash and produced by Rick Ruben is definitely a hit in my book. In all of these recordings Johnny is singing songs that he really wants to sing, but the last one was the best in my opinion. June died during the last session, and Johnny knew he was dying. You can tell by his voice that he's old and sick, but the feeling and the heart in these songs there are no words to describe. I was already a huge Johnny Cash fan, and to me this was the icing on the cake.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Johnny Cash and always have. I personally found this CD depressing. I'm sure there are many people who would enjoy this music, but it's just not for me.
poughkeepsiejohn More than 1 year ago
Since Johnny Cash's death in 2006, there have been two postumous albums of new material. "American VI: Ain't No Grave" is being proclaimed as the final Johnny Cash album. I don't know how true that is (Cash reportedly recorded almost a hundred songs while doing his first American Recordings album). But the songs on this brilliant record sure ring with a finality about it. Like nearly all of Cash's albums with Rick Rubin's American Recordings, the sound is low-fi, the emotions run high and there is a sense of fragility about Cash's voice and subject matters. The song selections are especially good this time---Sheryl Crow's "Redemption Day", Kris Kristofferson's "For The Good Times", Bob Nolan's "Cool Water" and even the Hawaiian standard "Aloha Oe", which heartbreakingly closes the album. However, the album's standout track is Cash's only original song: "I Corinthians 15:55"---"Oh death, where is thy sting?" Most of the material Cash had done on this record was made right after his wife, June Carter, passed away. So, these words ring more than true for the man, who would pass away just a short time later. His farewell album? Maybe. A timeless masterpiece? Definitely.
JohnDMusicluver More than 1 year ago
As the title indicates, this is the sixth installment of a collaboration between Johnny Cash and producer Rick Rubin. As he has demonstrated in the past, Mr. Cash has a way of taking songs of others and adding his own feel to them. Adding to the covers is Cash's original, 1 Corinthians 15:55, a statement of his faith and conviction, composed from a two sentence Bible verse. For those looking for Johnny Cash songs in the vein of Folsom Prison Blues, I Walk the Line, or Get Rhythm, they should probably look for an anthology or greatest hits album, but if they limit themselves to this it will be their loss. For those more familiar with his later work, they will be very pleased with this album as it does not disappoint or have any weak points (maybe a surprise or two). Also, not a surprise, Cash and Rubin have selected excellent musicians for accompaniment. They, along with Rubin's production, provide a great backdrop to present Cash at his finest. This album shows a great deal of reflection, as well as Mr. Cash's awareness of those he is leaving as well as those he has lost. A large factor in this album is Johnny Cash looking death in the eye and not backing down or walking away.
Patriotic-one More than 1 year ago
Yikes--not for the easily depressed. This ain't pop and it may not even be country--how about "death folk"? Our man Cash doing a Sheryl Crow cover!? Ouch...but there are definite worthwhile moments and the opening song is a real keeper.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You can hear the grave in his voice.Soft and tender
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is Johnny Cash's last recording before he died. It is a very moving album for me to hear as I have listened to him from the start of his career to this last recording. I strongly recommend this album.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My Mom loves her John Cash CD
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