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American V: A Hundred Highways

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Audio CD, July 4, 2006
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American V:  A Hundred Highways + American IV: The Man Comes Around + American III: Solitary Man
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The album is a continuation of the highly popular and critically acclaimed series of American recordings produced by Rick Rubin. The series began with 1994's acclaimedAmerican Recordings, followed by Unchained (1996), American III: Solitary Man (2000) and American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002). AMERICAN V contains 12 tracks and includes one Johnny original, 'Like The 309' (the last song that Johnny wrote and recorded before he died).

The ethical questions surrounding this final album in the American Recordings series are as unavoidable as they are, ultimately, peripheral. While the vocal tracks were recorded in the months just prior to Johnny Cash's passing in September 2003, the arrangements weren't undertaken until two years later. And though producer Rick Rubin had become a trusted friend, the Man in Black wasn't around to approve or disapprove, let alone guide, the final sessions. However, if the pure power of these recordings doesn't quiet the skeptics, nothing will. With Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench and slide guitar session pro Smokey Hormel on board (all three of whom appear on earlier Cash albums), along with guitarists Matt Sweeney and Johnny Polansky, the sound is stately and acoustic, but rarely staid, even as the dynamics of earlier recordings in the series are absent. Instead, the songs have a measured, elegiac intensity, the sound of musicians choosing their notes carefully and making just the right choices.

The songs Cash sings are, unsurprisingly, confessional and reflective: his mortality and his mistakes, his maker and his salvation, and the loss of his wife June and the end of his career may have weighed on his mind, but in these songs he both embodies and transcends his personal history. On "God's Gonna Cut You Down," as the musicians clap and stomp behind him, his voice cuts through the air like that same avenging hand. On the new original "Like the 309"--the last song Cash ever wrote--he cops to being short of breath, and that voice becomes a metaphor for what each of us will one day face. On Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Read My Mind," Rubin flirts with overwhelming the damp bittersweetness of Cash's phrasing in tasteful atmospherics, but the voice is implacable, hitting and finding notes one never expected he'd have the will to find. Likewise, it's hard to believe this is his first recording of Ian Tyson's "Four Strong Winds"; the elemental narrative seems to have been written for him. Two songs, however, Cash has recorded before: the born-again hymn "I Came to Believe" and the final spiritual, "I'm Free from the Chain Gang Now." The latter especially is a definitive testament, as is his version of Bruce Springsteen's "Further On (Up the Road)." "One sunny morning we'll rise, I know / And I'll meet you further on up the road," he sings. If only, John, if only. --Roy Kasten

More Cash

At Folsom Prison

American Recordings

At San Quentin

American IV: The Man Comes Around

The Legend

The Complete Sun Recordings 1955-1958

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
  1. Help Me 2:51$1.29  Buy MP3 
  2. God's Gonna Cut You Down 2:38$1.29  Buy MP3 
  3. Like The 309 4:34$1.29  Buy MP3 
  4. If You Could Read My Mind 4:29$1.29  Buy MP3 
  5. Further On Up The Road 3:24$1.29  Buy MP3 
  6. On The Evening Train 4:17$1.29  Buy MP3 
  7. I Came To Believe 3:44$1.29  Buy MP3 
  8. Love's Been Good To Me 3:18$1.29  Buy MP3 
  9. A Legend In My Time 2:36$1.29  Buy MP3 
10. Rose Of My Heart 3:17$1.29  Buy MP3 
11. Four Strong Winds 4:34$1.29  Buy MP3 
12. I'm Free From The Chain Gang Now 3:00$1.29  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 4, 2006)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 2006
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: American
  • ASIN: B0002W18MU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (213 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,372 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

177 of 181 people found the following review helpful By K. H. Orton VINE VOICE on July 5, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I'm appreciative of the one reviewer so far who didn't give this an obligatory 5 stars, and suspicious of those that did. So why the full 5? Because, this is one of the most quietly, powerful albums I've heard all year & because it's so personal sounding.

To these ears, each American album had something to set it apart from the others & if I were to characterize this (hopefully) latest installment, I'd say A Hundred Highways is the most lonesome sounding of the lot. The sound of a man alone. Stripped of youth, health & any illusions.

All of the records in this series could be considered sparse in terms of production & accompaniment. Producer Rick Rubin acts more like a still photographer trying to capture the moment, rather than pull any strings. Which is one reason why they've all been good. He just let Cash be Cash. And in terms of all their previous work together I have to say, Highways is the most low key. It's also one of the most initimate. No Fiona Apples moaning in the background. No flashy covers like "Rusty Cage" or "Hurt". No frills at all. Just that voice & maybe a little acoustic guitar & organ. As he's so often proved, Rubin has good taste & this album is a far cry from some sort of open casket funeral.

"Help Me" starts things off & the fragility in Cash's voice cannot be denied. For some this isn't easy to take. The song is a plea & the end result is more heartbroken than desperate. "God's Gonna Cut You down" is easily the most rousing number on the album & Cash's voice comes across like thunder that is soon to die down in the distance.

As many have pointed out "309" is the last song he wrote. As any fan knows, The Man In Black was fond of train songs & it serves as a fitting epitaph, completely void of any self pity.
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69 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Timothy W. Beeker on July 6, 2006
Format: Audio CD
It's a bit hard to talk about this album. If you want to hear a tired old man singing, then, by all means, buy this album and you may only listen to it once.

If you want to hear from a man who was in love and had a truly broken heart, then listen to Johnny sing to June. I'd dare say that you'd not get past "On The Evening Train" without being moved.

The heart of the man was broken in more than one way. Listen to him sing to and about the Lord. While you're listening, remember Johnny's life and all that went with it. Then, project the thoughts of some of these songs onto yourself and be glad that you have the foresight of his life. Some of the lines in these songs speak in a powerful way that they would not speak, if anyone other than Mr. Cash sang them. I looked at myself, when the clapping and stomping finally ended in "God's Gonna Cut You Down." I could see myself, to some degree, in many of the characters that he sang about in that song. It was not a pretty sight. But, I take this as help from both the man and the Spirit that led him.

I've been trying for a very long time now to try to seperate body, soul and spirit into definable parts. This album helped me to do this in a way that I've never been able to do before. Mr. Cash was old and tired. His body was feeble. If you've read anything at all about the album and how it came to be, and then listen to it, you'll have no doubt that he was tired. I believe that his soul had been ravaged (by his own actions) and then redeemed again (through June's love) and finally broken by June's death. You cannot escape these thoughts on this album.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By prisrob TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 3, 2006
Format: Audio CD
"Listening to "A Hundred Highways" and to earlier versions in the "American Series", it seems like these discs encapsulate the effects of time not just on Cash but on all of us. If age and sickness could wear down a voice of such power, a voice that sounded, in its prime, like it was a thousand years old, what does it hold in store for the rest of us? And you can't help but think that Cash's decline mirrors the decline so many of us have seen around us in our own families, strong men and women cut low with astonishing speed." Andrew Gilstrap

All of us understand that Johnny Cash was singing to keep himself alive. It has been told that the only time he felt alive after his wife, June Carter Cash's death, was when he was recording. The songs were Johnny Cash's reflection of his mortality, and that of all of us. Songs from many of the well known song writers appear on this CD, as well as his last written song "309". They seem so fitting and a message is within all of them. This CD is a memorial from Cash to all of us, and we are recipients of a CD that is frail and strong at the same time.

"Help Me"- by Larry Gatalin sets the tone for the weary man who is facing his journeys end. "I'm tired of walking all alone, Never thought I needed help before. Now, I know I just can't help it anymore."

"God's Gonna Cut You Down"- a strong rendition" You can run on for a long time, but sooner or later he's gonna cut you down".

"Like the 309"- afterlife, prayer, death, his last song "It should be a while before I see Dr Death. I am not a whiner or cryin kind until I hear the whistle of the 309- puttin me and my box on the 309".

"If you Could Read My Mind"- Gordon Lightfoot's song sung in a weary, resigned tone. "You know that Ghost Is Me", yes we do.
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Search Customer Discussions
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Topic From this Discussion
Did Johnny do any Dylan songs with Rubin?
Have no idea why Johnny did not do more Dylan. The three Christian releases seem a particulary good fit. Sheryl Crow sang "Every Grain of Sand" at both John's and June's funeral and stated it was favorite of Johnny's.
Jun 27, 2006 by Tom West |  See all 6 posts
American V
It's listed on one music site as a 180 gram vinyl release.
Jun 16, 2006 by TomS49 |  See all 3 posts
What's the newsletter address?
Jun 6, 2006 by Tom West |  See all 2 posts
American V
No to the first question and probably no to the second. The box set, according to notes by Rick, was "done and dusted" just about the time of Johnny's death, Sept.,12,'03. In addition, Johnny had recorded 50 more songs for "V",again according to notes by Rick. These songs... Read More
Jun 2, 2006 by Tom West |  See all 2 posts
Johnny Cash should be on the dollar bill Be the first to reply
Johnny Cash's new album Be the first to reply
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