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.
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To adequately describe Johnny Cash: The Life, it helps to begin with the author. For more than thirty years, Robert Hilburn worked as a music critic at the Los Angeles Times, rubbing shoulders with the greats of the industry–Dylan, Lennon, Joplin, Springsteen, U2, and many others. But this tenderhearted, penetrating biography stands as an argument that he knew Johnny Cash best. Cash was an unlikely artist, born in debt-poor Arkansas to cotton farmers. He began working (and singing) in the fields at the age of five; and from there, Hilburn–who counted Cash as a friend and was the only music journalist at the famous Folsom Prison concert–draws from his extensive personal interviews with the singer, as well as new material from Cash’s inner circle, to create a biography that is both compassionate and clear-eyed. As he details the stunning rises and tortuous stumbles of The Man in Black, Hilburn conveys an intimate, consuming, human portrait of the drama, the art, and the purpose that made the man a legend. –Chris Schluep
“I listened to that stark unrelenting country as a kid. He was a hero of mine. I met him, finally, in a john at the Waldorf Astoria. He was taking a pee, and I broke out into ‘Loading Coal.’ We both zipped up and sung the final chorus together. One of my most cherished moments. You don’t get much closer than that. Hilburn has written a brilliant story of an even more brilliant songwriter, warts and all.”– Keith Richards
“Johnny Cash was a man both extraordinary and ordinary. Every man could relate to him, no man could be him, and only one man could get inside his head like Robert Hilburn.”– Bono
Hardcover: 688 pages Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (October 29, 2013) Language: English ISBN-10: 0316194751 ISBN-13: 978-0316194754