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Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash's America CD/DVD – 2008 (Sony Legacy)

Reviewed by Greg Yost

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Since his passing in 2003, many books and films have taken a look at Johnny Cash's life and his place in history. The latest of these efforts is "Johnny Cash's America," a feature-length documentary from filmmakers Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon. We see the evolution of Johnny Cash as both a man and an artist. Although the film touches on many different phases of Cash's life and his historic career in music, it does not dig too deeply into specific details of any of those individual areas.

Divided into separate chapters with headings like "Justice," "Family," "Protest," "Faith," "Patriot" and "Redemption," this film breaks down key moments in Cash's life and describes how they contributed to making him one of the most complex and popular figures in American pop culture history.

By incorporating an extensive amount of interviews from a broad range of people including friends, family, musicians and politicians along with a treasure trove of photos, audio and video from the Cash family's personal archives, the filmmakers do an excellent job of conveying Cash's amazing ability to appeal to people of all walks of life. While the title suggests that the film gives the viewer a look at the country through Johnny Cash's eyes, it does a better job of conveying the fact that Cash is a uniquely American figure - a man whose life and art transcended simple classification. Perhaps "America's Johnny Cash" would be a more appropriate title for this film.

Accompanying the DVD in this 2-disc set is an 18-song soundtrack with 5 previously unreleased recordings. As with the film, the content of the soundtrack covers many different phases of Cash's career and highlights the true diversity of his musical repertoire.