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The Big Fall Books Preview 2013: To adequately describe Johnny Cash: The Life, it helps to begin with the author. For more than thirty years, Robert Hilburn worked as a music critic at the Los Angeles Times, rubbing shoulders with the greats of the industry--Dylan, Lennon, Joplin, Springsteen, U2, and many others. But this tenderhearted, penetrating biography stands as an argument that he knew Johnny Cash best. Cash was an unlikely artist, born in debt-poor Arkansas to cotton farmers. He began working (and singing) in the fields at the age of five; and from there, Hilburn--who counted Cash as a friend and was the only music journalist at the famous Folsom Prison concert--draws from his extensive personal interviews with the singer, as well as new material from Cash’s inner circle, to create a biography that is both compassionate and clear-eyed. As he details the stunning rises and tortuous stumbles of The Man in Black, Hilburn conveys an intimate, consuming, human portrait of the drama, the art, and the purpose that made the man a legend. --Chris Schluep
The bare bones of Cash’s story are widely known: the singer-songwriter’s childhood years as a farmer’s son longing to make music, his early hits, his descent into substance abuse, his tumultuous personal and professional life. Here, Hilburn, who covered music for the Los Angeles Times for more than 30 years, puts some meat on those bones. Did you know, for example, that when Cash moved to Memphis, he hadn’t heard of producer Sam Phillips, or Sun Records? And did you know that the lyrics of Cash’s early hit, Folsom Prison Blues, were lifted, not quite word-for-word, from Gordon Jenkins’ Crescent City Blues? The book is based on previously published material and on the author’s interviews, over the years, with numerous sources, including Cash and his family; Phillips; musicians such as Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan, and Tom Petty; and many of Cash’s friends and colleagues (each chapter is thoroughly sourced). It’s always tricky to call a biography definitive, but this one must surely come close. --David PittSee all Editorial Reviews
Learned some interesting things about him and June. A slow read at times but I enjoyed it.Published 11 days ago by CB
Terrific book! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. My husband purchased his last CD's released that were put together by Rubin. Made listening to these last works even more meaningful .Published 11 days ago by Nancy M. Hartsfield
Good book, exhaustively researched & sourced. You see Cash warts and all here. It is a compelling portrait of a very talented, very conflicted man.Published 1 month ago by cas
Because I am a musician, the book was very informative and loaded with lots of personal experience. My girlfriend read it also and tired quickly of the drug usage stories. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Pescador
Awesome book! Learned a lot about the man and the depths and textures of his life....excellent read.Published 1 month ago by Tomcat2
I am, and have always been, a big Johnny Cash fan. I have enjoyed his music from the beginning of his Sun Records years. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bob White
Somehow I felt that this book was intermittent, the beginning was pretty good but the middle was shaky, however, the end is excellent. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Elias Elias