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Publisher's Summary

The definitive, intimate, no-holds-barred biography of Johnny Cash.

People don't just listen to Johnny Cash - they believe in him.

Although part of his life has been told on film, there are many compelling layers to his story that have remained hidden - until now. Robert Hilburn tells the unvarnished truth about a musical icon whose personal life was far more troubled and his artistry much more profound than even his most devoted fans have realized. As music critic for the Los Angeles Times, Hilburn knew Cash well throughout his life - he was the only music journalist at the legendary Folsom Prison concert in 1968, and he interviewed him extensively just before Cash's death in 2003.

Drawing upon his personal experience with Cash and a trove of never-before seen material from the singer's inner circle, Hilburn gives us a compelling, human portrait of one of the most iconic figures in modern popular culture - not only a towering figure in country music, but also a seminal influence in rock.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2013 Robert Hilburn (P)2013 Hachette Audio

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
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  • Story

Awesome!

Because the movie Walk the Line is my all-time favorite movie I almost didn't listen to this book thinking I knew enough of the story. I didn't know a quarter of the story. I am 39 years old and even though I am a life long country music fan I didn't know much of what was in this very complete biography of Johnny Cash. Gonna start it again now and listen again but it's just sad that it's over. The narrator does a very good job unlike some of the reviews state. Easy to listen to and enjoy and learn. I now want to go back to Hendersonville and see the grave again and visit the House of Cash museum. Already a fan this book made me a fanatic!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Great but long

It was written very well. An insight we haven't had yet. The performance made it easy to listen to. I got this on audio book because it was taking me forever to read. It was easier to follow and listen to on audio but it was still long.

I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to know Cash

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Scott
  • Chestertown, MD, United States
  • 11-09-13

Great Book - Poor Narrator

Would you try another book from Robert Hilburn and/or Charles Pittard?

The story is well written. The Narrator was terrible. Did not sound interested In reading the story. Monotone and hesitating in many parts making the reading hard to understand.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Charles Pittard?

I would have liked to hear Grover Gardner reading this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Excellent Story, Horrible Narration

What did you like best about Johnny Cash? What did you like least?

The story was fantastic, and I learned a lot about Johnny Cash that I didn't know previously. On the down side, the narration was flat.

What did you like best about this story?

Details about Johnny Cash's personal life.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The narration was flat and boring. This is the worst job of narration that I've ever heard, and I have over 200 audiobooks.

Could you see Johnny Cash being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Yes. I don't have any idea who the stars should be.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
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  • Story

A Genuine American Artist

What did you love best about Johnny Cash?

Hilburn presents an unvarnished yet heroic tale of one of America's most outstanding artists. He brings insight to Cash's deep and abiding interest in singing, writing, family, relationships, underdogs, and gospel. He details Cash's his successes, struggles, determination, drug addled behavior, faith, falls, and resurrections. But throughout Hiburn gives us a very well written, riveting, and human story of a monumental figure in the annals of music.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The book's subject, John R. Cash.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

At times one is touched by the enormous decency of this focused and gifted man and at times one is repulsed by the depths of his addiction and its abhorrent consequences. As one reads the book, it is compelling to also pause and listen to the music he created. It is amazing that he did so much work on stage as well as in recordings even during the darkest of times. Hilburn's account, commensurate with the magnitude of his subject, evokes every form of emotion. That Johnny Cash could finish his career and his life under the supportive and inspiring umbrella of Rick Rubin and the songs they recorded is a gift for all who cherish music and musical interpretation nonpareil. That Robert Hilburn has told the personal story of music's foremost chronicler of the American experience is a gift for everyone.

Any additional comments?

While Hilburn writes of Cash's magnetism, sound, commanding performances, and ability to imbue songs with his enormous imprimatur, he does not delve much into describing that unique resonant baritone quality that instantly identifies Johnny Cash to any and all listeners. Perhaps Hilburn's understatement in this regard is understandable. Written words can describe the force and extent of the man's artistry and influence, but simply cannot describe the auditory impact of Johnny Cash's voice and music. But this book surely will motivate readers to seek out his recordings and be rewarded anew by the auditory and emotional power of Cash's sound that extends so far beyond his recognized hits. Example? Try "Danny Boy" sung as Johnny Cash, in a hoarser voice, nears the end of his life. It is a tour de force rendition of a song you thought you knew. Hilburn points out others.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
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  • PT
  • PA
  • 05-15-14

Pretty Comprehensive

What did you love best about Johnny Cash?

The writing was pretty straightforward.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No.

Any additional comments?

The voice recording was disappointing. I tried tuning it with my iPhone's equalizer settings but I couldn't get rid of enough bass.<br/><br/>The few times I've listened to NPR, I've marveled at how extraordinarily well their microphones transmit voice. Why can't all audio books be more like that?

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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a must listen for any Cash fan

an amazing telling of the life of an Amazing Artist. Narration has a great flow.

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Interesting life

Johnny Cash had an interesting but very conflicted life. This was a good listen. I loved the performance. I could listen to that guy all day.

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Man in Black gets worthy biographer

What a good writer Robert Hilburn is. Hilburn, a writer whose work as a music journalist has enriched my understanding of modern music (Cornflakes with John Lennon is a good collection) here takes on the man esteemed as country music's greatest icon, Johnny Cash. This book far surpasses the film version of Cash's life which I was disappointed to learn was woefully inaccurate, and gives us a portrait of a man troubled with more demons than most of us are plagued with (many of which the film Walk the Line does here get accurately), who gloriously finished his career , which had become mired in mediocrity and dismal sales, with a string of powerful albums and a video, Hurt, that has to be seen to be appreciated for its greatness. Even if you are not a fan of country music in general or Cash in particular, this is a powerful examination of one of the greatest musical artists this country has produced. Cash's fixation on the themes of violence, romance, and God sometimes resulted in horrifying sameness in his music. But oh, when he was inspired...! Finally, as so much of greatness is as the result of the right timing and the right partners, it is only fair to note that some of Cash's greatest music came because of his teaming with Sam Philips at Sun Records and Rick Rubin with the great American Recordings series. You owe it to yourself to listen to this book. Hearing the power of the lyrics alone is worth it.

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very well done

what a great book that digs deep into the life of cash. I enjoyed every moment of it