"I am the least capable person to review this album. This man had been writing and singing songs for forty years and all I'd heard of him was "Ring Of Fire". I knew the song. I did not know who sang it. It was all but another one of these inevitable songs on every compilation, and one of these songs every channel my parents loved so much would play. I never noticed. Today, I still know hardly more.One late-summer evening as I was zapping through the music channels here in The Netherlands, my thumb froze over the remote. On the screen singing was, not the usual parade of lewd, crafted, playbacking little mouths seemingly right of production lines, not good capable singers only better than the rest because of management and advertisement skills; it was a man dressed in black, looking old as death, with a voice raw as a crow's. I did not know it was he, if it had mattered. It was Cash, singing "Hurt". I looked, listened but then more. It was so unspeakably sad, so unfathomably melancholic. How can I describe the emotions hearing that song? Haunted and moved don't seem adequate.Enchantment. I was a youth with a passion for music: metal, symphonic, classic, techno. Give it to me, give it to me every day, all day long. I'll be satisfied. I was a youth, looking at an old man, singing for me, singing of his life and emotions. Music moves me always, but it was this music, barely more than a voice and an acoustic guitar, that drew a tear, dropped into my heart - then another and another. Silent, invisible tears filling hollows, and all that showed on the outside, were a sniff of the nose and a blink of the eyes. I was a youth.Many of the songs on this final album, including "Hurt", are covers, even though some are his own. Cash here also covers Paul Simon, Hank Williams and John Lennon. Not all of his arrangements are better than the originals. Technically. But Cash performs with such feeling, such sway, such voice, that this is the most cherished music I've bought in a lifetime.Then, as I sat there oblivious, and wishing I had seen the whole thing, the clip ended and I saw Cash's name. I turned off the set, stood, and hoped I would hear it again. Weeks later, Cash was dead. Today, I still know hardly more.Five stars to this albumBram Janssen,
Reach out and touch faith...
J. Sutherland | 11/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This American Recording is different. On this album Johnny Cash (who is now 70 years old) never tries to fool himself or us listeners into thinking that he's going to keep on making album after album after album. Let's face it - the voice is even more ragged and torn than last time (American III) and the lyrics are even more desolate, lonesome, and dark than ever before. But this album of new and old originals & covers is probably one of the most beautiful I've ever heard.Johnny Cash is not a singer. He never was. But without that dark baritone these songs would not have the impact that they do. I could talk about ever individual track on the album - but I'd rather just make it short and sweet by mentioning a few personal favorites."The Man Comes Around" - A Cash original that seemed to take a lot of time to get down (coming from the linear notes). Amazing song about that thing called the apocolypse and judgement day. Nobody could do it like Cash. Nobody..."Hurt" - Johnny Cash takes one of Trent Reznor's (Nine Inch Nails) best songs and makes it even better. Not only does Cash make the song better but he also makes it seem as if the song was meant for just him. Oh, and there is a word change. Where Reznor would say "I wear this crown of sh*t", Johnny now says "I wear this crown of thorns." The change first kinda put me off but then it seems that Johnny's variation make much more sense then the first."Bridge over Toubled Water" - just a great cover of an amazing classic. Fiona Apple adds some tender backing vocals that help Johnny along this tune of trouble and redemption."First time ever I saw your face" - Just as where Cash left off on "Spiritual" (from American II) he starts back at with this one. Truly beautiful. Sounds as if they recorded it in a church for Johnny has this amazing echo on his voice. If you don't get tears in your eyes from this one, you're hopeless."Sam Hall" - one of the "lighter" tracks, but still painted in black. "I'm so lonesome I could Cry" - I don't know how it happened. They got 2 of the most interesting singers to appear on a country classic. Nick Cave (who's a big favorite of mine) lent "The Mercy Seat" to Johnny's last American Recording (III), but this time he's lending his voice. Cash and Cave swap lines from this Hank Williams classic. "We'll meet Again" - so you go through this dark and cold world where people can't even remember how to pray let alone carry a bible and then you come to the end and a smile is finally cracks and some light pours through as the door opens. Cash ends on a positive note and the whole damn Cash family joins in at the very end.Who knows if Cash will record anymore albums. It's hard to tell. The man is in and out of the hospital constantly (or so it seems) and any one of us would've probably called it quits. Elvis didn't make it, Orbison didn't make it, but the Man in Black is still reaching out and touching us. He's still tormented by the feeling that music must be played. He's still not thinking that this will be the last song he sings. He's still got soul and he's still got love."
In a Word--Haunting
Brian D. Rubendall | Oakton, VA | 03/02/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Man Comes Around" would be a pretty remarkably album even if Johnny Cash weren't as terribly ill as he's reported to be. That a man over 70 can still generate this much intensity is nothing short of astounding. There are a lot of successful mediocre rock bands out there who ought to take note. Cash's albums for American records have been uniformly fine, but this may be the best one yet.What really stands out is the song selection. Cash's version of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" takes the cold techno-rock anthem out of the freezer and warms it up to the point where it sounds as if the apocalypse is upon us. Other well known songs getting the benefits of Cash's God-like voice are the Simon and Garfunkle standard "Bridge Over Troubled Water," the Eagles's "Desperado" (which takes on a whole new meaning) and the formerly syrupy ballad "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." Other highlights include the title track, "Give My Love to Rose" and the mournful "I Hung My Head." A few songs don't work quite as well and there are occasions when Cash's voice seems to waver from fatigue, but that is mere quibbling.Overall, another triumph from one of America's greatest-ever musicians."
Simply Brilliant -- A Masterpiece
Rich | Washington, DC | 02/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"About two months ago I was flipping through channels when MTV2 ran a video of Johnny Cash doing a cover of Trent Reznor's "Hurt" -- which is an excellent song/video in its own right -- but the Cash version gave me chills. Whether or not you're a fan of either, it must be said that Mr Cash's interpretation is simply mesmerizing. Here is a man that has been kicked to the ground so many times and has battled so many demons that the pain registers. It's unnerving and it's frightening. In this cover, he just hangs on to each word of the song beautifully. And there's a scene with his wife (June Carter Cash) that's almost too painful to watch. She's clearly uncomfortable with the subject matter. Breathtaking. I immediately bought the album and was BLOWN away. With pared-down vocals and sparse arrangements, you're given an intimate and very dark look into the psyche of a man so multi-dimensional that he can BEAUTIFULLY remaster otherwise feeble works written and performed by "artists" like Sting and The Eagles. It's a shame that kids are SO over-exposed to unoriginal, rehashed garage punk (it's over); the "diva" caterwalling (it's WAY over) and over-sampled hip-hop (when it's popular in the Burbs kids, then it's time to step away from the gangsta-rap aisle). Mr. Cash is a true legend. This CD is a masterpiece."