“Sings The Ballads Of The True West” by Johnny Cash - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1965Album Chart of the Decade: 1960s

TJR says

His finest hour. And 4 minutes 50 seconds. Folk and country get all mixed up once again, as Johnny continues his concept album love affair with a sprawling, and very well researched, double album set, chronicling tales of the old American West. And there weren’t no Wiki back in ’65! The cover of Shel Silverstein’s “25 Minutes To Go” is a total stunner. The song is literally “gallows humour”, as it is sung by a man awaiting his own execution by hanging. Each verse consists of two lines, of which the first line is anything from humorous to poignant, and the second line is a minute-by-minute countdown. “Well they’re buildin’ the gallows outside my cell. I got 25 minutes to go. And the whole town’s waitin’ just to hear me yell. I got 24 minutes to go.” It’s the point of view of someone who is experiencing a calamity in “real time” composing and singing as the events unfold, with a fatal conclusion, and it’s thoroughly compelling. Elsewhere, Cash tackles the old traditional “Sam Hall” (Tex Ritter style), an old English folk song about a bitterly unrepentant criminal condemned to death (Roud #369). Prior to the mid-19th century it was called “Jack Hall”, after an infamous English thief, who was hanged in 1707 at Tyburn. The sole single from the album, “Mr. Garfield”, describes the shock of the population after the assassination of President James Garfield in 1881. The set also includes 2 brilliant tracks (“Streets Of Laredo” and “The Blizzard”) which had been covered 4 years ago by Jim Reeves on his “Tall Tales” LP – surely no co-incidence? This is completely brilliant all the way – that a 20 track album can hold such a high rating is testament to its strength in depth…

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [02:25] 7.4.png Johnny Cash - Hiawatha’s Vision (Johnny Cash) Folk
A2 [02:43] 7.0.png Johnny Cash - The Road To Kaintuck (June Carter) Country
A3 [02:54] 6.6.png Johnny Cash - The Shifting Whispering Sands, Part I (Jack V.C. Gilbert, Mary Margaret Hadler) Country
A4 [03:48] 7.6.png Johnny Cash - The Ballad Of Boot Hill (Carl Perkins) Folk
A5 [02:58] 7.8.png Johnny Cash - I Ride An Old Paint (Traditional) Country
B1 [04:19] 8.2.png Johnny Cash - Hardin Wouldn’t Run (Johnny Cash) Folk
B2 [04:35] 8.0.png Johnny Cash - Mr. Garfield (Jack Elliott) Folk
B3 [03:39] 9.2.png Johnny Cash - Streets Of Laredo (Traditional) Country
B4 [02:50] 8.4.png Johnny Cash - Johnny Reb (Merle Kilgore) Folk
B5 [02:35] 6.8.png Johnny Cash - A Letter From Home (Maybelle Carter, Dearest Dean) Folk
C1 [02:26] 7.7.png Johnny Cash - Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie (Traditional) Country
C2 [03:07] 7.1.png Johnny Cash - Mean As Hell (Johnny Cash) Folk
C3 [03:15] 10.0.png Johnny Cash - Sam Hall (Traditional) Folk
C4 [03:14] 10.0.png Johnny Cash - 25 Minutes To Go [1965] (Shel Silverstein) Folk
C5 [03:53] 7.3.png Johnny Cash - The Blizzard (Harlan Howard) Country
D1 [03:57] 7.4.png Johnny Cash - Sweet Betsy From Pike (Jimmie Driftwood) Folk
D2 [02:47] 7.6.png Johnny Cash - Green Grow The Lilacs (Traditional) Folk
D3 [04:01] 8.9.png Johnny Cash - Stampede [1965] (Peter La Farge) Country
D4 [02:28] 6.6.png Johnny Cash - The Shifting Whispering Sands, Part II (Jack V.C. Gilbert, Mary Margaret Hadler) Country
D5 [02:58] 7.0.png Johnny Cash - Reflections (Johnny Cash) Folk

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