Johnny Cash, American Recordings

I thank Rick Rubin from the bottom of my heart for introducing the grunge crowd and Gen Y to the complex genius of Johnny Cash. This 1994 comeback album (and subsequent series) was a godsend for me. It allowed me to listen to the Man in Black raw and exposed, how I’ve always wanted to hear him.

In the 1980s, Johnny Cash nearly marred his legacy for good by becoming a cheesy caricature of himself. Thankfully he met a producer who saw the strength, grace, and conviction of this flawed, strange, and sincere country outlaw.

There were two sides to Johnny Cash: “A Boy Named Sue” and a heartfelt singer who “shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.” I always preferred the man who sang about sin and redemption. He’s the man I respected. An artist who was humbled by God’s mysterious ways.

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