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Johnny Cash: Sings the Ballads of the True West

Track List

>Hiawatha's Vision
>Road to Kaintuck, The
>Shifting, Whispering Sands, Pt. 1, The
>Ballad of Boot Hill, The
>I Ride an Old Paint
>Hardin' Wouldn't Run
>Mister Garfield
>Streets of Laredo, The
>Johnny Reb
>Letter From Home, A
>Bury Me Not on the Lone Praire
>Mean as Hell
>Sam Hall
>25 Minutes to Go
>Blizzard, The
>Sweet Betsy From Pike
>Green Grow the Lilacs
>Shifting, Whispering Sands, Pt. 2, The
>Rodeo Hand
>Stampede [Alternate Instrumental]

Album Reviews:

Entertainment Weekly (9/26/03, p.34) - "...This early concept album...is a hymn to a wilder, freer 19th-century America..."

Album Notes

Recorded in 1965. Originally released on Columbia Records (C25 838). Includes liner notes by Johnny Cash.

Digitally remastered by Steve Hoffman.

Personnel: Johnny Cash (vocals, guitar); The Carter Family, The Statler Brothers (vocals); Luther Perkins (electric guitar); Bob Johnson (guitar, banjo, lute); Bob Johnson (banjo); Maybelle Carter (autoharp); Charlie McCoy (harmonica); Bill Pursell (piano, harpsichord); James Carter Wilson (piano);

Marshall Grant (bass); W.S. Holland, Michael Kazak (drums); The Anita Kerr Singers (background vocals).

Recorded between 1959 & 1965. Originally released on Columbia (838). Includes liner notes by Johnny Cash, Jonny Whiteside.

All tracks have been digitally remastered.

In preparation for his 1965 album SINGS THE BALLADS OF THE TRUE WEST, Johnny Cash conducted research into America's Old West. The results found him combining his source material with romantic Western folklore to achieve a vision that was hard-hitting, familiar, and historically resonant. According to his liner notes, he also "slept under mesquite bushes and in gullies" and "learned to throw a Bowie knife and kill a jack rabbit at forty yards, not for the sport but because [he] was hungry."

Appropriately, the songs are replete with frontier imagery, and the spare arrangements (even the strings are subdued) make plenty of room for Cash's resonant baritone, giving rise to visions of open plains and boot spurs jangling in the dust. Many of the tunes here became staples in Cash's repertoire, including the plaintive "Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie" and Shel Silverstein's chilling gallows-pole narrative "25 Minutes to Go." The spoken word passages, including "Hiawatha's Vision," inspired by Henry W. Longfellow's epic poem "The Song of Hiawatha," show Cash at his campfire storyteller best. Of the many fine recordings Cash made for Columbia in the '60s, SINGS THE BALLADS OF THE TRUE WEST is one of his most ambitious and most beloved.


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