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Johnny Cash  By  cover art

Johnny Cash

By: Robert Hilburn
Narrated by: Charles Pittard
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Publisher's Summary

People don't just listen to Johnny Cash: they believe in him. But no one has told the Man in Black's full story, until now. In Johnny Cash: The Life, Robert Hilburn conveys the unvarnished truth about a musical icon, whose colourful career stretched from his days at Sun Records with Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis to his remarkable, brave and deeply moving 'Hurt' video, aged sixty-nine.

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 Cash and his wife June Carter for the final time just months before their deaths in 2003. Hilburn's rich reporting shows the remarkable highs and deep lows that followed and haunted Cash in equal measure. A man of great faith and humbling addiction, Cash aimed for more than another hit for the jukebox; he wanted his music to lift people's spirits.

Drawing upon his personal experience with Cash and a trove of never-before-seen material from the singer's inner circle, Hilburn creates an utterly compelling, deeply 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, whose personal life was far more troubled, and whose musical and lyrical artistry much more profound, than even his most devoted fans ever realised.

©2013 Robert Hilburn (P)2013 Hachette Audio

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Thorough Real and Enthralling

great book, well written well paced well researched, well read. will listen to this again.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Phil
  • 08-14-15

The unblemished, unflinching truth

First of all, if you've watched 'Walk the Line' (the 2005 Hollywood film of Johnny Cash's life) - that's the fairy story narrative of this man's life.

A generation of people will understand that Johnny Cash's life was basically a story of how he married young, to the wrong woman, Vivian. She resented his music and gave him a hard a time. He hit the drugs to keep going on the road and found the affections of June Carter - who he fell in love with. He divorced Vivian, and June understood him and saved him from his demons, which included drugs and the bitter memories of losing his brother as a child, and his equally bitter relationship with his father.

Ok - park that story there. Not only is it incredibly unfair on Vivian Cash, it's also incredibly indulgent on Johnny Cash. It also paints June as a saintly figure - and she was far from that in the way she went after the married Johnny Cash.

Johnny Cash was a bad man. Make no mistakes about it. He was wild. There were more women in his life than just Vivian and June. The film doesn't really look at his temper, his violence, his drugs, his missed tour dates (at one point he was missing more bookings than he turned up for). Somehow his incredible talent pulled him through both professionally and personally.

You have to read/listen to this book because the full story, the anecdotes, the legends are as incredible as they are true - and Robert Hilburn is unflinching in his determination to tell the fact from the fiction.

Johnny Cash is a great human being. He experienced the hell of surviving all his personal, emotional and psychological wrong doings and he distilled them to become bitter sweet dark dark chocolate sound of his country, rockabilly, folk and pop music. He was a champion for the underdog, he was resolutely non-judgemental of others, and he walked a line that few others could ever have survived.

Quite incredible man, and all credit to Robert Hilburn, quite an incredible account of it all.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Mark
  • 01-04-14

Not to my taste

How could the performance have been better?

To just have words when we're hearing about a singer seems lacking in content. It would probably be better on the radio where the music could be injected at appropriate points.

Any additional comments?

I'm afraid this is the first title I've stopped listening to part way through. I heard about the title on the radio and thought it sounded good so bought it straight away. This may have been due to the periodic musical injections but the story didn't have the same energy and enthusiasm as portrayed.

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  • cornishman
  • 12-18-18

A long book

I found this book to be full of information about JR cash's life it's not a book to be taken lightly .

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-30-18

God Bless Johnny Cash

Thanks ever so for sharing the True Cash, Dad was No1. fan, I say was because he has passed away. it's nice to get to know the characters that inspired my Dad. Loved listening, can understand the Hell that he went through, guess that's why people love him so 😎

1 person found this helpful

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  • Chris
  • 02-26-14

The Man In Black

The was a fantastic review of the life of JR. I was already a Cash fan, and was pleased with each song or album which was discussed in the book, however the detail and insight in to Johnny's turbulent and intriguing life were fascinating. I already knew some rough outlines of JC's life, but the depth and honesty this book portrays is worth reading. This really is a 'warts n all' look at the life of Johnny Cash and can, in places be surprising. Do not enter in to this with a rose tinted view of Cash as a virtuous moral role model, but a man who battled against his own personal demons his whole life. I cannot highly recommend this book enough for any Johnny Cash Fan.

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  • polonius
  • 01-17-22

brilliant listen

loved it from beginning to end alot of his story I didn't know. a very comphensive look at the man in black

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  • Duncan
  • 12-14-20

Extensively Researched & Read Brilliantly

This was a joy to listen to. The level of research that clearly went into this book clearly shows. It is a fascinating look at Mr Cash's life. The narrator was first class as well.

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  • a m wrightson
  • 06-13-20

Misses the point somehow

I can see why Hilburn wanted to tell this side of Cash's story, however it is a partial view with a lot of important stuff missing. While the stressful backstage life of a touring performer, various breakdowns and crises and various experiences of his family are retailed in grim detail, his life in music is largely invisible, and after the early years his collaborations and friends in the worlds of songwriting and performance are well in the background of the narrative where they appear at all. 'Life with Johnny Cash' would be a better title.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 01-12-20

Loved this audiobook.

What a great story beautifully read. Just made me like Johnny Cash even more.
A fitting tribute of his life.

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  • Vikki Gaynor
  • 05-25-19

Got to admit.... this is Great

A country hero.. a superstar... and with that a hypocritical asshole...
the story of this man leads me to believe that you can do anything and get away with it using religion..
He was an amazing man.. who took A SHIT load of drugs... slept around outside of his marriages and yet he released so many gospel albums and tours with Billy Graham preaching the word of the lord often while unable to stand due to copious amounts of drugs drink and attitude.
I am amazed he lasted as long as he did... he was a fighter with the heart of a poet and the soul of a preacher..
Well worth getting to know and this is the Book that introduces you to Jonny cash in ways that will make you smile .. cry ... and get angry .
In the end you will love him for his generosity of spirit and yet hate him for his behaviour..
A worthwhile listen .. about a true hero of music and someone who is part of History for all that he did and all that happened to him...
Enjoy this book I REALLY DID
BRILLIANT

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-24-22

What a fantastic story

Loved this from start to finish,it's refreshing to hear the full story, not just the usual fan fair but the entirety of the facts no matter how dark.

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  • Nery
  • 05-16-20

true story of the man in black

I knew bits and pieces of Johnny Cash's story but this book was a rollercoaster of emotions. As the career of the man in black starts and blossom I found myself smiling and feeling good then the drug years and bad decisions which sounded more hellish than I ever imagined. Then it goes to June and Johnny's final years and there were times there that I was tearing up. There's no doubt that Johnny Cash lived one hell of a life and this book does an amazing job retelling it in fine details.

At first I thought the narrator was a bit monotone and not into it but the more you listen (only takes a few chapters) you realise that no. His voice actually works really well for this type of story.

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  • terrence
  • 02-07-19

Inspiring,emotional and exellent.

this book has made me respect Johnny Cash so much more than I already did. I both laughed and cried right thru out the book. honestly the very best book I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. I wish it never stopped. honestly best read ever. never felt so many different emotions thru out a book. really feel so much stronger about the man and his life and family and had no idea just how much he shaped the music industry until now. thankyou so much for such an exiting biography.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-14-18

Great insights for the true Cash fan

Great story about a complex artist. Not for the casual fan, and probably best suited to those with at least a passing interest in the process of making records, touring and country music. Narrator was good, although there were some minor issues with some sentences and some obvious re-recorded sections which was a tad jarring. However that's understandable for a 30-plus hour story. Overall, a great story that is well told.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-16-18

What a ride

This book goes deep into Cash. You feel like you are there the whole time.