“Blood, Sweat, And Tears” by Johnny Cash - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1963Album Chart of the Decade: 1960s

TJR says

This is another in Johnny Cash’s string of terrific concept albums, digging deep into Appalachian and Negro folklore for inspiration. The album’s title is inspired by a quote from Winston Churchill, in which he says he can offer “nothing but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” The album’s epic opener, “The Legend Of John Henry’s Hammer”, sets the tone. John Henry’s heroism is associated with several elements: his strength and grit as a working-class common man, his status as a hero to African American labourers, and his allegorical depiction of “the tragedy of man versus machine” and other aspects of modernization. “35c a day for drivin’ steel”. John Henry is a black man of exceptional physical gifts, a former slave, possibly born in Tennessee. Henry becomes the greatest “steel-driver” in the mid-nineteenth-century push to expand railroads from the East Coast of the United States, across and through the mountains, to the frontier West. However, the owner of the railroad buys a steam-powered hammer to do the work of his mostly black steel-driving crew. To save his job and the jobs of his men, John Henry challenges the owner to a contest: Henry will race the steam–powered hammer. Henry won the race. However, as the result of pushing himself to beat the machine, he collapsed and died. This is Johnny Cash the socialist, Johnny Cash the humanist, Johnny Cash, for the American underdog. For the men who make sacrifices for others, with empathy for the chain gang, and the farmer who’s hen won’t lay. This is Johnny Cash with his heart on his sleeve. This is Johnny Cash at his storytelling best…

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [08:26] 9.5.png Johnny Cash - The Legend Of John Henry’s Hammer [1963] (Johnny Cash, June Carter) Country
A2 [03:04] 6.6.png Johnny Cash - Tell Him I’m Gone (Johnny Cash) Country
A3 [02:37] 7.4.png Johnny Cash - Another Man Done Gone (Vera Hall, Alan Lomax, John Lomax, Ruby Tartt) Soul
B1 [02:18] 8.8.png Johnny Cash - Busted [1963] (Harlan Howard) Country
B2 [03:05] 6.7.png Johnny Cash - Casey Jones (Johnny Cash) Country
B3 [03:19] 6.4.png Johnny Cash - Nine Pound Hammer (Merle Travis) Country
B4 [02:41] 6.5.png Johnny Cash - Chain Gang (Howard) Country
B5 [02:10] 6.5.png Johnny Cash - Waiting For A Train (Jimmie Rodgers) Country
B6 [02:13] 6.7.png Johnny Cash - Roughneck (Sheb Wooley) Country

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