Johnny Cash-The Bootleg Series Vol. 2

This is the second volume of Johnny Cash’s Bootleg Series, the first being Personal File. The highlights of this set are the first 10 tracks, which finds Johnny Cash at his first radio performance ever, taking place in September of 1954. Here you can hear where it all started, and you can hear an unfamiliar awkwardness not associated with Cash. During the advertisements he reads for Home Equipment Company, you can hear him stumble and pause, searching for the right words to say. But, the music is fantastic, as to be expected. The set includes “Wide Open Road, “One More Ride“, a Luther Perkins instrumental, and “Belshazzar“. Beyond the radio performance, this compilation includes many demos and unreleased songs, all recorded between 1954-1969. Most of them aren’t that amazing, but there are some gems hidden among the throwaway takes. Some of my favorites are: “Foolish Questions” (originally recorded by Bill Haley), a lighthearted song that pokes fun at people that questions to which the answer is blatantly obvious, such as “Now then there’s this fella who meets you on your way/And asks you why your all dressed up and listens while you say/That you just been returning from the funeral of poor old Uncle Ned/As soon as you have told him, he will say, “Is Ned dead?“. Another highlight, and personal favorite on this album is the song “The Folk Singer“. The lyrics tell of the life of a singer, how lonely it can be at times, and how most of them aren’t fully appreciated until after they are gone (But when I’m dust and clay where other people stop and to look/And will they marvel and miracles and perform into the high size to the spider). It’s a somber song, and a foretelling one as Cash seems to only be gaining in popularity since his death in 2003. All in all, this is an essential set for hardcore Johnny Cash fans, but the casual fan probably won’t appreciate it as much as his proper studio albums.

  • Foolish Questions
  • The Folk Singer

 

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