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Johnny Cash’s American Recordings Albums to Be Reissued in Vinyl Box Set

Johnny Cash
Scott Gries, Getty Images

The career of country and rock and roll legend Johnny Cash was one of peaks and valleys, but ended on a high note from 1994 to 2010, when Cash released the American series of albums on Rick Rubin’s American Recordings. The label has announced a box set due May 11 featuring vinyl reissues of all six albums: American Recordings, American Recordings II: Unchained, American Recordings III: Solitary Man, American Recordings IV: The Man Comes Around, American Recordings V: A Hundred Highways, and American Recordings VI: Ain’t No Grave.

Notable recordings from these albums include covers of Nine Inch Nails‘ “Hurt,” Soundgarden‘s “Rusty Cage,” U2‘s “One,” Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” and Lucky Starr’s “I’ve Been Everywhere” (Cash’s version of the latter is now the most famous rendition).

Rubin spoke in 2011 about working with Cash, saying the American albums came from a desire to work with a more established artist who “who might not be in the best place in his career at the moment” and outlining the song selection process of sending CDs back and forth with Cash.

“I think he knew it was good while we were doing it, but it wasn’t until it came out and got the critical praise that it really sank in,” Rubin said. “The fact that young people were coming up to him, telling him how much they liked the album — that’s when he really knew. It had more to do with other people’s reactions.”

Rubin also spoke about how the songs took on a new meaning when sung by an older, weary-voiced Cash: “There are lots of examples of that, but one example, for me, is ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water,’ I’ve heard that song my whole life, but until Johnny sang it, I never thought about what it meant. All of a sudden the words took on a whole new seriousness when he sang them. Some people have said they felt that way about ‘One’—the U2 song. They’ve said that when Johnny sang it, the words rang true in a way that was different from what they had heard before.”

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