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Johnny Cash "The Posthumous Tapes"

During his 49 year recording career, Johnny Cash released approximately 5,682 albums and he covered the gamut – country, gospel, Christmas, collaborations, soundtracks, live records, and music that was slotted into the Contemporary Folk category. (I exaggerate slightly on the number, but consider this – he had over eighty COMPILATION records). Somehow, he always left us wanting more. There are elements of his music and image that every generation can relate to – the gravitas, his spiritualism (which was never pious or humorless), embodying strength yet always championing the underdog. He was simultaneously simple and complex, poetic and direct, worldly and rural.

Imagine that you could record one more record with Johnny’s later period weathered vocals with Rick Rubin, taking a break from imagining what chicken fried steak tastes like, twiddling the knobs. Here are the tunes that Rock NYC would break out for the occasion.

 

1. Welfare Music (Bottle Rockets). Our set begins with a sample of LL Cool J proclaiming, “Don’t call it a comeback!” and then Cash settles into this empathetic tune about an unwed mother. The fact that the song name checks Carlene Carter is delicious bonus gravy.

 

2. Bad Moon Rising (CCR). Cash stares down the apocalypse. And wins.

 

3. Anything, Anything (Dramarama). You could fill this thing up with songs about desperate romantic obsession. Just nothing by The Police, please.

 

4. Crazy (Gnarls Barkley). Imagine Cash croaking out the first verse of this song. Pure gold.

 

5. Bring Me Sunshine (Willie Nelson). Nice lighthearted number for a change of pace.

 

6. Use to Be a Cop (Drive-By Truckers). The Man in Black would have relished the line, “I got scars on my back from the way my daddy raised me.”

 

7. Mortician’s Daughter (Freedy Johnston). Doomed romance, dusty coffin lids, remembering escapades in the bone yard.

 

8. Working Class Hero (John Lennon). Because, he really was.

 

9. One Tin Soldier (Original Caste/Coven). Cash gets righteous in the name of the Mountain People and the Valley People. We’ll try to avoid the Village People.

 

10. I Will Possess Your Heart (Death Cab for Cutie). June Carter Cash is resurrected for the video, trying to look appropriately enchanted on a set of stairway steps. She is secretly concerned that the song is about an involuntary organ transplant.

 

11. Thee Olde Trip to Jerusalem (The Mekons). Biblically inspired social justice. Right in Cash’s wheelhouse.

 

12. Happy Trails (Dale Evans). Would be tempting to run out the clock with a big production number, but a warm, simple, folksy goodbye is more appropriate. Happy trails to you, John. Until we meet again.

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