American Recordings (album)

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This article is about the Johnny Cash album. For the record label which released the album, see American Recordings (record label)
American Recordings
Studio album by Johnny Cash
Released April 26, 1994
Recorded May 17, 1993 – December 7, 1993
Genre Country, Americana, rock, folk
Length 42:45
Label American/Sony
Producer Rick Rubin
Johnny Cash chronology
Wanted Man
American Recordings
The Man in Black 1963–1969
American series chronology
American Recordings

American Recordings is the 81st album by the country singer Johnny Cash. It was released in April 1994 (see 1994 in music), the first album issued by American Recordings after its name change from Def American, the album being named after the new label. In 2003, the album was ranked number 364 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Guitar World placed American Recordings at number 50 in their "Superunknown: 50 Iconic Albums That Defined 1994" list.[1]

Cash was approached by producer Rick Rubin and offered a contract with Rubin's American Recordings label, better known for rap and heavy metal than for country music. Under Rubin's supervision, he recorded the album in his living room, accompanied only by his guitar. For years Cash had often been at odds with his producers after he had discovered with his first producer, Sam Phillips, that his voice was better suited to a stripped-down musical style. Most famously he disagreed with Jack Clement over his sound, Clement having tried to give Cash's songs a "twangy" feel and to add strings and barbershop-quartet-style singers, and his successful collaboration with Rick Rubin was in part due to Rubin seeking a minimalist sound for his songs.

The songs "Tennessee Stud" and "The Man Who Couldn't Cry" were recorded live at the Viper Room, a Sunset Strip, Los Angeles nightclub owned at the time by Johnny Depp. "The Beast in Me" was written and originally recorded by Cash's former stepson-in-law Nick Lowe.[2]

The video for the first single, the traditional song "Delia's Gone" (directed by Anton Corbijn, featuring Kate Moss), was put into rotation on MTV, and even appeared on Beavis and Butt-head, Beavis asking if Cash was Captain Kangaroo. Cash recorded "Delia's Gone" before for the album The Sound of Johnny Cash but he rerecorded it for this album with new lyrics written by himself.[3] The album was hailed by critics and many declared it to be Cash's finest album since the late 1960s, while his versions of songs by more modern artists such as Tom Waits and Glenn Danzig (who wrote a song called "Thirteen" specifically for Cash, in just twenty minutes)[4] helped to bring him a new audience. American Recordings received a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album of the Year at the 1994 Grammy Awards. The album cover was photographed whilst Cash was visiting Australia, at Werribee near Melbourne.[5]

The original release of the CD included a reproduction of 6 pages of handwritten notes by Cash about the songs on the album.

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating 5/5 stars link
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars link
BBC Music favorable link
Entertainment Weekly A link
Houston Press favorable link
Los Angeles Times 4/4 stars link
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars 1998 2004
Village Voice mixed link
Virgin Encyclopedia 4/5 stars link
Yahoo! Music favorable link

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Delia's Gone" (Cash, Karl Silbersdorf, Dick Toops) – 2:18
    Originally recorded by Cash for The Sound of Johnny Cash (1962)
  2. "Let the Train Blow the Whistle" (Cash) – 2:15
  3. "The Beast in Me" (Nick Lowe) – 2:45
    Later recorded by Lowe for The Impossible Bird (1994)
  4. "Drive On" (Cash) – 2:23
  5. "Why Me Lord" (Kris Kristofferson) – 2:20
    Originally recorded by Kristofferson for Jesus Was a Capricorn (1972)
  6. "Thirteen" (edit) (Glenn Danzig) – 2:29
    Full-length version appears on Disc 5 of the Unearthed Box Set. Written by Glenn Danzig for Cash. Later recorded by Danzig for Danzig 6:66 Satan's Child (1999)
  7. "Oh, Bury Me Not (Introduction: A Cowboy's Prayer)" (John Lomax, Alan Lomax, Roy Rogers, Tim Spencer) – 3:52
    Originally recorded by Cash for Sings the Ballads of the True West (1965)
  8. "Bird on a Wire" (Leonard Cohen) – 4:01
    Originally recorded by Cohen for Songs from a Room (1969)
  9. "Tennessee Stud" (live at The Viper Room, West Hollywood, 3 December 1993) (Jimmy Driftwood) – 2:54
    Originally a hit single for Eddy Arnold (1959)
  10. "Down There by the Train" (Tom Waits) – 5:34
    Written by Waits for Cash. Later released by Waits on his Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards rarities collection.
  11. "Redemption" (Cash) – 3:03
  12. "Like a Soldier" (Cash) – 2:50
  13. "The Man Who Couldn't Cry" (live at The Viper Room, West Hollywood, 3 December 1993) (Loudon Wainwright III) – 5:03
    Originally recorded by Wainwright for Attempted Mustache (1973)


  • Rick Rubin – producer
  • Johnny Cash – acoustic guitar, vocals, main performer, liner notes
  • Jim Scott – mixing
  • David Ferguson – sound recordist
  • Stephen Marcussen – mastering
  • Christine Cano – design
  • Martyn Atkins – art director, photographer

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1994) Peak
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums 23
U.S. Billboard 200 110
Canadian RPM Country Albums 9
Canadian RPM Top Albums 72


Best Contemporary Folk Album


  1. ^ "Superunknown: 50 Iconic Albums That Defined 1994". July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 14, 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Beast In Me". Song facts. Archived from the original on 18 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Glenn Danzig" (interview). DK: Futher mocker. 
  5. ^ Presenters: Glenn Ridge (2011-06-19). Weekends with Glenn Ridge. 97:10 minutes in. MTR. 

External links[edit]