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Review – Johnny Cash: The Life

May 13, 2014

Johnny Cash

I admit that I’ve never been the biggest Johnny Cash fan.  His career was waning by the time I became aware of his music and I’ve never listened to much country.  Still, his personality was always larger than life so I was aware of him.  I enjoyed Walk the Line, the movie version of his life and have a weakness for memoirs and biographies, so I decided to give Robert Hilburn‘s new book, Johnny Cash: The Life a try and I’m very glad I did!

It’s obvious Hilburn did his homework.  This book is long and it covers Cash’s whole life, from his childhood until his death.  I’m sure there’s not a lot of new information for ardent Cash fans, but I discovered his life was very different from the Hollywoodized version I saw at the theater.  Cash was a man of many contradictions and talents.  He was deeply religious yet he struggled with temptation.  He resented the way his father treated him at the same time he struggled to be a good parent to his own children.

Johnny Cash was a talented and charismatic man who loved music.  He had to constantly reinvent himself because there were so many people depending on him.  He didn’t always make good decisions in his personal and professional lives but, after reading this book, I think his heart was generally in the right place.

I really enjoyed Johnny Cash and found myself listening to Cash’s music a lot while I listened to it.  In fact, I had this song stuck in my head almost the whole time I read the book:

The audio version of this book is narrated by Charles Pittard.  He has a terrific voice but his delivery was flat at times.  The audio version lasts a little over 21 and a half hours.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
24 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2014 4:38 am

    Country music has never been a favourite of mine but I did know about him. Definitely my era!

  2. May 13, 2014 5:44 am

    I loved Walk the Line also, but I don’t think I’d go so far as to read a book about him! LOL

  3. May 13, 2014 7:30 am

    21 hous is a lot of time to invest if you’re not a big fan! Guess I’m like you… aware, but never much of a country music listener.

  4. May 13, 2014 8:20 am

    I haven’t much listened to Johnny Cash’s music either but then I only recently started listening to country. This book sounds like it was worth reading!

  5. May 13, 2014 8:45 am

    This was one of my favorite books from last year. Cash was such a complicated man, so full of contradictions.

  6. May 13, 2014 8:48 am

    I enjoyed Walk The Line as well. I have one of Johnny Cash’s CD’s. I know what you mean by his song sticking in your head.

  7. May 13, 2014 10:41 am

    I grew up with Johnny Cash thanks to my father who really admired and related to the man. I have a soft spot for country music, given it’s what I listened to as a child–it drives my husband crazy (although I have gotten him to listen to the more pop-country music over the last decade or so and enjoy some of it). I would consider reading this as a memory to my dad, I think, but otherwise I can’t say I’m that intrigued. It isn’t just Cash though. I am not a big fan of celebrity biographies and memoirs in general.

  8. May 13, 2014 11:46 am

    That’s a long audiobook! Sounds fascinating though. I’m interested in learning more about Cash, and it sounds like this book will do the trick. Walk the Line was such an enjoyable film.

  9. talesofwhimsy permalink
    May 13, 2014 11:54 am

    I love his music. I should SO check this out.

  10. May 13, 2014 12:57 pm

    I’m surprised I didn’t listen to more of Johnny Cash when I was growing up, as he was such a huge influence on my cousin’s life/career (Kris Kristofferson). This sounds like a good audio to try. Is any of his music incorporated in the production? I love that video of the song, Jackson. Of course, now I have it stuck in my head. 😉

  11. Patty permalink
    May 13, 2014 5:48 pm

    Wow…that’s a ton of listening!

  12. May 13, 2014 8:12 pm

    This one sounds good, I also enjoyed Walk The Line. I think Johnny Cash had one of those voices that you just know right away.

  13. May 13, 2014 8:47 pm

    I didn’t listen to country growing up, but my brother loved Johnny Cash so I was familiar with him. My husband is also a country music lover and Cash’s voice is one you recognize immediately!

    The audio book does sound interesting. I’m glad you enjoyed it and one day I may decide to give it a listen even though 21 hours is a little intimidating to me.

  14. May 13, 2014 8:54 pm

    I can’t say I ‘ve been a Cash fan – he’s a complicated man. LOVED Walk the Line and do seem to enjoy his music now more than when I was younger.

  15. May 13, 2014 9:16 pm

    I too have not been a Cash fan, but my son just loved some of his music, (which I found strange) I didn’t see the movie either. thank you for your thoughts, I keep a watch for the book though.

  16. May 13, 2014 9:26 pm

    This does sound like an interesting biography, Kathy. Johnny Cash’s singing is certainly distinct.

  17. May 13, 2014 9:32 pm

    I think this book would be very interesting to read to compare to the recent film. I can imagine they are very different!

  18. May 14, 2014 6:10 am

    I’ve seen the movie and thought it was okay because I had never heard of his music before. I wouldn’t have picked this up but after your review I might just.

  19. May 14, 2014 2:00 pm

    I’m going to have to pick this up for my mom. She’s always been a big fan. I grew up listening to his music.

  20. May 14, 2014 5:21 pm

    wow! 21 hours is quite the long book! how in the world did you find time to devote 21 hours?!? And I have to admit with your first sentence about not being a big Johnny Cash fan had me quite wary of your review 😉

    I’m a huge Johnny Cash and classic country fan – so glad you enjoyed this one!

  21. May 14, 2014 5:29 pm

    The only things I know about the man came from Walk the Line, LOL.

  22. May 19, 2014 2:32 pm

    Sounds like an interesting man – I never quite got around to watching Walk the Line, so know nothing about him!

  23. bookingmama permalink
    May 21, 2014 7:55 am

    I admit that I don’t know much about Cash. Sounds like this book was a fair representation.

  24. May 21, 2014 10:16 am

    I love Johnny Cash (my son is named Cash) – I’ll have to check this book out!

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