I received John Cash’s American Recordings in the mail today and it’s quite magical. While the whole of it is relatively dark, I sense within this album much more irony and and even forlorn self-tribute than his previous or later albums, such as Solitary Man and The Man Comes Around. It’s as if Cash found that his true name is “Cash,” the man who built up an empire of song by looking at the poverty of self.
I suspect that Cash, in creating this album, however, is pointing to a larger issue around Americana (thus the title), in that American culture pushes hard on those who are used to being pushed. And I also imagine that he was less than happy with this album, as his next two albums are tribute covers to others who may not have lived the life of Cash but understood its majesty. In other words, those later albums were easier to master aesthetically and are easier to listen to because they’re essentially not about Cash.