Johnny Cash

American V: A Hundred Highways

This man is worth more dead than alive. After being immortalized by Joaquin Phoenix in last year’s Walk the Line, Johnny Cash rises from the dead yet again for twelve tracks recorded just months before he followed his wife into the grave. Like American I-IV, V contains yet more moaning from the purgatorial Rick Rubin sessions — all of it laced with personal regret and interminable as hell. Rubin says he has at least one more of these albums on ice, and God knows who else is likely to cash in between now and then. Most of this album achieves Sad Sack Factor 5,000 with slow dirges about dead wives, babies, and dreams. Salvation comes from song two, a frickin’ badass 2:38-minute-short drum and distortion sermon. Backed by marching stomp and clap percussion, countered by twangy, overdriven slide guitar, the chorus reminds us You can run on for a long time/run on for a long time/run on for a long time/ Sooner or later God’ll cut you down. If they played shit like this in church, I’d still be going. As for the majority of American: V — this is why people don’t visit their grandparents anymore. It’s all bad clichés and finding Jesus and dying. Time to get back in the box, John!

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