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1,109 of 1,135 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One evening, the man came around
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...
Published on October 21, 2003 by Bram Janssen

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Johnny is still one of the best.
Really only loved one song on it. The rest were okay.
Published 21 days ago by Vicky Baskins


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1,109 of 1,135 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One evening, the man came around, October 21, 2003
By 
Bram Janssen (The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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 album
Bram Janssen,
The Netherlands
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164 of 172 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth every penny, June 18, 2003
By 
J. Sutherland "zeppfan" (Southport, North Carolina United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This collection of songs from various artists sung by the great man in black is superb. All of the songs tell tales of heart-break, loves, losses, armageddon, and hope. The great thing about Cash on this album is that he really uses his voice to evoke the emotions behind the songs. On "Hurt," a tune by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Cash sings "What have I become/My sweetest Friend/Everyone I know goes away/In the end," and boy can you tell that he means what he sings. It's so brilliant that I prefer Cash's version to the original. Cash has never been known for his beautiful voice, so like Dylan, he uses his own phrasings to really carry the song. He was very wise in his choices of what songs to record on this album. He chose stuff that you wouldn't think he would choose, such as "Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode, and "Bridge Over troubled water" by Simon and Garfunkel. Rick Rubin did a perfect job with the production on this album, it's somewhat spare. With so much passion and range of emotion on this album I couldn't give it anything less than five stars. It deserves a place in any music lovers collection.
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103 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reach out and touch faith..., November 6, 2002
By A Customer
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.
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54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ragged Glory, May 31, 2003
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I don't listen to a whole lot of country music, but when I do I generally like it undistilled. There are a few C&W artists I like without reservations and then there are those who are enigmatic enough that you never know what to expect from them. Johnny Cash fits into both categories.
Cash's "American" series has been interesting and I was eager to hear what was on offer here after his tremendous Solitary Man album. For once, here's an album which lives up to industry hype. I'll be hard pressed to improve on amazon's adulatory paean to Cash's latest work.
I was floored by the ragged glory of Cash's interpretations of this eclectic material the first time I heard it. Very little of it has any connection to traditional country, but with Cash behind the mike, the country just seems to burst forth.
Some of the more familiar songs I heard with new ears. Songs like Hurt, In My Life and Desperado have a whole lot more meaning when sung by a man of Cash's age as he can look back on life's triumphs and disappointments and sound as if he really means what he's singing.
I like the entire CD, but my favorites are the hellfire and brimstone The Man Comes Around, the mournful Hurt, the remorseful I Hung My Head, the reflective In My Life, the swaggering Sam Hall, the plaintive classic Streets of Laredo, and an uplifting rendition of We'll Meet Again.
The video of Hurt is well worth the extra buck fifty. Watch it...again and again and again! Cash's beloved wife appears in it and her recent death gives it a poignancy money couldn't buy.
I agree with the reviewer who said that Johnny Cash is every bit as important to American music as Elvis Presley. In the autumn of his life, he proves with American IV: The Man Comes Around that he still has what it takes to take his place in the pantheon of American music greats
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OH MY GOD, May 21, 2003
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I have heard both Trent Reznor's and Johnny Cash's versions of HURT. Trent's version speaks from a young person's point of view and is fine...but in the hands...and voice...and soul of Johnny Cash, it takes on a resonance and meaning that NIN can't even begin to touch. I have seen the video and listened to the song numerous times and I cry every time. It is particularly heart wrenching now that June has passed...Everyone I know goes away in the end...how much more than one man take?
The other songs are good...and the album is superior...but I honestly listen to it for HURT. This album is the crowning touch to a phenomenal career but HURT is the diamond in the crown...his whole life in one song. People need to get over categorizations. This is brilliant MUSIC, no matter what the genre. This is a brilliant musician. He does not have the best singing voice, but his vocals have more soul in them than ANYONE else out there now. I would put him with Billie Holliday when it comes to singing from the very core of being.
Singers like Johnny come our way so infrequently...we need to hold on to him as long as we can.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A transcendant piece..., January 19, 2003
By 
Mick (East Bay, CA) - See all my reviews
This music stands with Astral Weeks, Sgt Pepper, and Blonde on Blonde, and Big Pink.
It's stark, and overwhelming, and so beautiful...
All of the songs you thought you knew you didn't. You haven't heard 'Bridge Over Trouble Waters.' Paul Simon couldn't have meant this much when he wrote it. Cash couldn't have understood 'Give My Love To Rose' when he wrote it. 'In My Life' was pretty sentiment, then. Here, it is a bedrock statement, a will, a legacy of dignity and love.
Listen here to a Great American Hero, a hero like Whitman, or Ginsberg, or Hawthorne or Woody Guthrie. Listen here to the reason that John Ford made 'Fort Apache,' and Pynchon wrote
'Gravity's Rainbow,' and Nicholson became Jake in 'Chinatown.'
People, this is the sound of a man dying, with the strength, grace and the dignity of an angel, or a cowboy. Thank Christ that you were alive to hear him.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant -- A Masterpiece, February 6, 2003
By 
Rich (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
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.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Words fail me....but they do not fail Johnny, February 5, 2003
Johnny Cash has improved with age, not like a fine wine, but more like a mature whisky. A young man could not sing these songs with such depth and such profound personal faith.
"American IV: The Man Comes Around" is another in an astounding collection. Continuing the theme in the previous American recordings, Cash performs a mix of modern interpretations of other musicians coupled with his own current creations. If you are not familiar with the originals, it is difficult to tell which category a song falls into. Each song is a treasure of intimacy, and I feel privileged that he has chosen to share them.
I enjoyed "Streets of Laredo" and "Desperado" as the familiar cowboy songs that they are. "Danny Boy" is every thing you think it would be. Truly touching, however, are the versions of "In My Life" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water." I am amazed that anyone ever sung these songs any other way.
Highly, highly, highly recommended.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In a Word--Haunting, March 1, 2003
"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.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Man Truly Does Come Around!, November 7, 2002
By 
Ryan S Mason (Indianapolis, IN United States) - See all my reviews
I think I would rather hear Johnny Cash sing than anyone else on God's green earth. This album once again proves that Johnny is still a great songwriter with three originals ("The Man Comes Around", "Give My Love to Rose", and "Tear Stained Letter") that truly get to the heart of one of America's true living icons. He puts a new gutwrenching and tear-enducing spin on Nine Inch Nails melodrama "Hurt," duets with Fiona Apple on the Simon and Garfunkel gem "Bridge Over Troubled Waters," adds a little country blues to Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus," sings directly to June Carter Cash with The Beatles beautiful "In My Life," shows up the Eagles with his take on "Desperado," and duets with Nick Cave on Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," making each song truly his own. He sings them as if he wrote them to the point of amazement. Cash never fails to exceed expectations. This album is a must have, as are the previous three American Recordings. You just don't appreciate music unless you appreciate these albums, or any of Cash's work for that matter. Johnny closes the album with a rousing version of the classic "We'll Meet Again," complete with a choir of friends and family behind him on the last bit. This song indicates that Cash is indeed aware that with his health, it may be his last album of material before he passes on. It is a beautiful close to a beautiful album and a magnificent body of work that could never be matched. Johnny's my hero. I pray that we get more music from Cash before his time comes. I certainly hope that we do meet again.
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American 4: The Man Comes Around
American 4: The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash (Audio CD - 2011)
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