These books add to the flurry of material on Johnny Cash, who died a year ago on September 12. Streissguth (editor, Ring of Fire) offers the more interesting entry, using the Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison album as a vehicle to analyze Cash's down-home, plebeian image. He starts with "Folsom Prison Blues," which Cash partly borrowed from pop orchestra leader Gordon Jenkins and first recorded for Sun Records in 1955. After broadly describing the singer's initial rise to fame, Streissguth chronicles Cash's prison concerts, which began in 1957 at Huntsville, AL, and continued for the next ten years. He insightfully shows how the confluence of such forces as the demand for prison reform, the rise of country rock, and the 1960s emphasis on the downtrodden led to the success of Folsom Prison and, in turn, the transformation of Cash from a successful country singer to an American icon. Lavishly illustrated with more than 100 photos many by noted music photographer Jim Marshall and peppered with a few reminiscences by Folsom prisoners, the book will attract a general audience as well as Cash fanatics. Songs, on the other hand, provides little new information. After some brief, oft-told biographical facts, Cusic, a country-music authority, discusses and then prints the lyrics of many Cash songs. He divides the lyrics into such broad categories as God, railroads, prisons, wars, soldiers, patriotic odes, people, music, places, growing up country, and outlaws. Though indicating the songwriter's main preoccupations, the book reveals that the lyrics are rather mundane when they have been wrenched from the emotional tension of Cash's music and voice. It will appeal only to the most die-hard fans. Dave Szatmary, Univ. of Washington Lib., Seattle Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.