Johnny Cash, The Legend

Douglas Wolk

By Douglas Wolk

on 05.21.12 in Reviews

The Legend

Johnny Cash

Spanning nearly 50 years, this overview of a singer who was more or less a one-man genre gets the hits out of the way in a hurry: the first disc is a boom-chicka-boom stampede through pretty much all of his best-remembered songs through the ’70s. Disc 2 is more of the Cash cognoscenti’s favorites, going from his early rockabilly wonders to later songs that were written for him (or might as well have been) by songwriters like Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello, who looked to him as an ancestor. The final two discs are the really clever reframings of Cash’s immense canon: a set of the traditional songs and country standards that were the spine of his repertoire, and a collection of the playful duets and collaborations that were this solitary man in black’s hidden specialty.