The Man in Song: A Discographic Biography of Johnny Cash

The Man in Song: A Discographic Biography of Johnny Cash

by John M. Alexander


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There have been many books written about Johnny Cash, but The Man in Song is the first to examine Cash’s incredible life through the lens of the songs he wrote and recorded. Music journalist and historian John Alexander has drawn on decades of studying Cash’s music and life, from his difficult depression-era Arkansas childhood through his death in 2003, to tell a life story through songs familiar and obscure. In discovering why Cash wrote a given song or chose to record it, Alexander introduces readers anew to a man whose primary consideration of any song was the difference music makes in people’s lives, and not whether the song would become a hit.

The hits came, of course. Johnny Cash sold more than fifty million albums in forty years, and he holds the distinction of being the only performer inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. The Man in Song connects treasured songs to an incredible life. It explores the intertwined experience and creativity of childhood trauma. It rifles through the discography of a life: Cash’s work with the Tennessee Two at Sam Phillips’s Sun Studios, the unique concept albums Cash recorded for Columbia Records, the spiritual songs, the albums recorded live at prisons, songs about the love of his life, June Carter Cash, songs about murder and death and addiction, songs about ramblers, and even silly songs.

Appropriate for both serious country and folk music enthusiasts and those just learning about this musical legend, The Man in Song will appeal to a fan base spanning generations. Here is a biography for those who first heard “I Walk the Line” in 1956, a younger generation who discovered Cash through songs like his cover of Trent Reznor’s “Hurt,” and everyone in between.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781682260517
Publisher: University of Arkansas Press
Publication date: 04/16/2018
Edition description: 1
Pages: 296
Sales rank: 761,568
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

John Alexander is a lifelong historian of all things Johnny Cash and country music. He was Senior Music Editor at Reader’s Digest and a college professor, and he is currently a songwriter, music producer, and senior editor at the Brooklyn Eagle. Alexander lives in Brooklyn.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1 – Five Feet High and Rising: Autobiographical, Geographical and Societal Songs
  • Chapter 2 – I Walk the Line: The Sun Years
  • Chapter 3 – What Is Truth: Songs of Personal Conviction
  • Chapter 4 – The Ballad of Ira Hayes: The Concept Albums
  • Chapter 5 – Far Side Banks of Jordan: The Gospel According to Cash
  • Chapter 6 – I Got Stripes: The Legendary Prison Recordings
  • Chapter 7 – Ring of Fire: Songs for June
  • Chapter 8 – Sunday Morning Coming Down: Kris Kristofferson and the Great Singer-Songwriters
  • Chapter 9 – Heroes: Hank Williams, Bob Dylan and Other Musical Influences
  • Chapter 10 – Highwayman: Jack Clement, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Other Collaborations
  • Chapter 11 – Delia’s Gone: The Murder Ballads
  • Chapter 12 – Committed to Parkview: Drug Use and Abuse
  • Chapter 13 – One Piece at a Time: The Great Story Songs
  • Chapter 14 – You Wild Colorado: Deep Cuts and Buried Treasures
  • Chapter 15 – I’ve Been Everywhere: Travelin’ Cash
  • Chapter 16 – The Man Comes Around: The American Recordings
  • Chapter 17 – Ain’t No Grave: The Songs Live On
  • Chapter 18 – September When It Comes: Final Reflections

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The Man in Song: A Discographic Biography of Johnny Cash 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There have been plenty of books written about Johnny Cash but nothing that dives so deeply into his music. "The Man in Song" is an impressive account of Cash's career and the songs that made him. Alexander finds a way to merge his academic background with his sheer love for the artist in a truly compelling read. Fans of Johnny Cash will discover things they never knew about the man in black. Perfect for country music fans and singer/songwriters of every genre.