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Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash

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The 1963 set Ring of Fire is a 12-track collection that overlooks some chart singles in favor of worthwhile B-sides and TV soundtrack cuts. The Man in Black was stretching out creatively in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, dabbling in film acting while testing out various combinations of mainstream country, primal rock, and folk balladry. “Tennessee Flat-Top Box” and the chart-topping title number are probably the best-known tunes from this time and remain essential to any Cash fan’s collection. “The Rebel–Johnny Yuma” is a TV Western series theme performed by Cash with the same haunted gravitas he brought to his own compositions. Digging deeper, the album includes lesser known but still worthy tracks like the stirring “Remember the Alamo,” the jaunty “What Do I Care,” and the nostalgic, unexpectedly Irish-themed “Forty Shades of Green.” Cash’s deep religious faith finds expression on “Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord?)” and “(There’ll Be) Peace in the Valley (For Me),” the latter featuring The Carter Family.


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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