Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cash: Bootleg Vol II

Johnny Cash’s son, John, has been gathering and releasing what could be called “historical” pieces of the Johnny Cash music catalogue. Four or five years ago they released Bootleg Vol I, “Personal File,” which was two CDs worth of demo recordings, just Cash and his guitar. And now they’ve released another two CD set called “From Memphis to Hollywood.”

The shining star of the new release is Johnny’s first recorded show, which he did for radio. They think this recording was actually made by Johnny’s wife at the time, Vivian. An amazing person in her own right. It’s a rough recording in the sense that it lacks the sonic quality of modern recordings, but it really shows how, from the earliest stages, Johnny had a very personal quality in his presentation, and his voice is a bit higher too. Plus, you get to hear Johnny try to sell awnings for the “Home Equipment Company,” which is where he worked at the time. What could be better than that?

Then the CDs goes on with some demo recordings, long lost vinyl B-sides and such. One of the “rockabilly” demos called “You’re My Baby” was actually recorded and released by Roy Orbison. Cash’s demo has the line, “you’re my sugar . . . little wooly booger.” It’s just fantastic. Johnny didn’t mind getting a little goofy sometimes, even though it’s not normative of what he did. Roy chose to leave that line off when he recorded it.

I’ve seen a few people on the internet over the past few years make snide remarks about John Carter Cash (Johnny’s son) releasing this stuff. They say the same kinds of things about Rick Rubin for the posthumous recordings he’s released. It’s that tone of “they’re just doing it for the money” thing, as if releasing music for the money is something new.


I’m thankful they take the time and effort to get these things released. Some of us are interested in the over all body of work that Johnny Cash produced: the phases he went through as a song writer and musician, as well as the stages he went through as a human being. All of these things matter when it comes to Cash. It is a big source of his popularity that he struggled through life and tried to be faithful to God in Christ while being honest with his art. He had a certain broken nobility.

If you like roots, traditional or folk music at all, you can’t miss this stuff.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

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