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Personal File

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iTunes Review

The ’70s and ’80s private-studio tapes collected on Personal File add up to a truly new way of hearing Johnny Cash. Not only because his voice sounds much more robust than it did on the similarly solo-acoustic American Recordings, but also because this may be the most relaxed Cash on record. That said, he’s fully aware of the microphone; there’s no slacking here. The song selection makes for a kind of musical autobiography, with folk, country and gospel songs he learned as a child sitting next to his own unreleased compositions, and covers of hits by friends and peers. (It can also stand as a version of the celebrated “old weird America” found in Bob Dylan’s work.) Any Cash fan, whether long-term student or curious newcomer, will find this a surprising, mind-opening set.

Customer Reviews

Pre-American Recordings, These Private Masterpieces

Okay ... a full decade before the Rick Rubin-produced American Recordings of the 1990s, Johnny Cash was busy at work on his own archive of solo acoustic sessions. All the press ... without exception ... never knew. The well told tale of Rick Rubin's concept of recording Cash alone with a guitar becomes just that .... a tall tale. Now we know that Cash was doing just that all along. No wonder Cash initially rejected Rubin's offer. The pivotal difference being the American Recordings reflect Rubin's song choices on Cash's behalf; whereas "Personal File" is wholly Cash's own inspired decision track after track. Here is an unbelievably personal documentation of an artist's private work-in-progress. It ranks with Leonardo Da Vinci's notebooks ... truly, it does ... as a rare window inside the mind of a bona fide genius. It is, therefore, an indispensable document and a singular work of art.

Unreleased Gems

These songs have been archived in Johnny's own collection of cuts for years. Finally we get to hear more of country's most genious-prone mind. That in itself is reason to buy the two-disc set.


Johnny Cash is an all around great artist. This is Cash at his very best. A must for any music fan...


Born: February 26, 1932 in Kingsland, AR

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Johnny Cash was one of the most imposing and influential figures in post-World War II country music. With his deep, resonant baritone and spare percussive guitar, he had a basic, distinctive sound. Cash didn't sound like Nashville, nor did he sound like honky tonk or rock & roll. He created his own subgenre, falling halfway between the blunt emotional honesty of folk, the rebelliousness of rock & roll, and the world-weariness of country. Cash's career coincided with the birth of rock & roll, and...
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