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Our Music Year No. 178: Johnny Cash, ‘American III: Solitary Man’

By From page A5 | June 27, 2013

Artist: Johnny Cash
Title: “American III: Solitary Man”
Year: 2000
Format: Digital (Spotify)
Grade: B-

The central failure of 2005’s “Walk the Line” biopic about The Man in Black was its wussification of a dude who’s career was built on the image of being a bad, bad man.

“American III: Solitary Man” captures Johnny Cash near the end of his career in his run of sessions for American Recordings. These affairs are largely driven by covers, including Cash rehashing his own material.

Both the film “Walk the Line” and the material on “Solitary Man” show a fragility in the man, but in stark contrast. Whereas the film portrayed him as a whimpering druggie with daddy issues, “Solitary Man” shows him defiantly staring down the barrel of old age. “You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won’t back down,” croaks Cash in his signature tone of sing-speak.

Cash’s covers never stoop to imitation, but so little of the material is his own, save for the brilliant, humorous “Country Trash.”

“I’m doing all right for country trash,” Cash sings. That’s the attitude “Walk the Line” failed to capture.

It may not be perfect, but at least “Solitary Man” has personality.

Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco is the editor of the Tailwind and writes the pop culture blog/column For Those About to Rock. Before joining the DR staff in July 2007, DeCicco (pronounced Deh-CEE-Coh) worked at The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., and the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colo. A 2004 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, DeCicco spends his free time attending concerts, listening to music, going to movies, traveling and hiking.
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