The Mystery of Life

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The Mystery of Life
Studio album by Johnny Cash
Released March 1991 (Original)
February 11, 2003 (Reissue)
Recorded September 1986 - September 1990
Genre Country
Length 30:17 (Original)
35:01 (Reissue)
Label Mercury
Producer Jack Clement
Johnny Cash chronology
The Man in Black 1959-1962
(1991)
The Mystery of Life
(1991)
Johnny Cash Country Christmas
(1991)

The Mystery of Life is the 77th album by country singer Johnny Cash, released in 1991, and his last for Mercury Records. It includes new recordings of two songs already associated with him from his Sun and Columbia days, "Hey Porter" and "Wanted Man". "I'll Go Somewhere and Sing My Songs Again" is a duet with Tom T. Hall. The album's poor performance on the charts (it peaked at #70) and that of "Goin' by the Book", the only single to chart (at #69), coupled with Cash's unsteady relationship with Mercury, ensured his departure from the label following the album's release. In 2003, the album was re-released with "The Wanderer" from U2's 1993 album Zooropa as a bonus track. In 2006, "I'm an Easy Rider" and "Beans for Breakfast" were used in the soundtrack to the video game Scarface: The World Is Yours.

According to Cash's 1997 biography, Mercury only pressed 500 copies of the album.

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars link
Robert Christgau (choice cut) link

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by Johnny Cash, except where indicated.

  1. "The Greatest Cowboy of Them All" - 3:34
  2. "I'm an Easy Rider" - 2:36
  3. "The Mystery of Life" (Joe Nixon) - 3:11
  4. "Hey Porter" - 2:20
  5. "Beans for Breakfast" - 3:18
  6. "Goin' by the Book" (Butch "Chester" Lester) - 3:19
  7. "Wanted Man" (Bob Dylan, Cash) - 2:52
  8. "I'll Go Somewhere and Sing My Songs Again" (Tom T. Hall) - 3:11
    • With Tom T. Hall
  9. "The Hobo Song" (John Prine) - 3:32
  10. "Angel and the Badman" - 2:24

Bonus tracks[edit]

  1. "The Wanderer" (Bono, Adam Clayton, The Edge, Larry Mullen, Jr.) - 4:44

Personnel[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]

  • Produced by Jack Clement
  • "The Wanderer" produced by Flood, Brian Eno and The Edge
  • Assistant producer: David R. Ferguson
  • Executive in charge of production: Harold Shedd
  • Executive producers: Claudia Mize, Reba Hancock
  • Recording engineers: David R. Ferguson (chief engineer), Richard Adler, Jack "Stack-A-Track" Grochmal, Mark Howard, J. Niles Clement, Cousin Bob Clement
  • Mixed by David R. Ferguson
  • Assistant mixer: Mark Howard
  • Recorded and mixed at the Cowboy Arms Hotel and Recording Spa, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Music arrangements: Joey Miskulin
  • "Wanted Man" arranged by: Marty Stuart
  • Mastered by Benny Quinn at Masterfonics, INC., Nashville, Tennessee
  • Album design: Marlene Cohen
  • Photography serigraph: Alan Messer
  • Executive art director: Kim Markovchick
  • Linear notes: June Carter Cash

Reissue credits[edit]

  • Produced by Andy McKaie
  • Digitally remastered by Suha Gur, UNiversal Mastering-East
  • Art direction: Vartan
  • Design: Mike Fink @ilevel
  • Photo research: Ryan Null
  • Photos: Alan Messer
  • Production coordination: Beth Stempel

Chart performance[edit]

Album[edit]

Chart (1991) Peak position
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums 70

Singles[edit]

Year Single Peak positions
US Country
1990 "Goin' by the Book" 69
1991 "The Mystery of Life" -

External links[edit]