The Essential Johnny Cash (2002 album)

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The Essential Johnny Cash
JC Essential.jpg
Greatest hits album by Johnny Cash
Released February 2002
Recorded September 1954–May 1993 at Sun's Studios
Genre Country, rockabilly, rock and roll, gospel
Length 1:43:53
Label Legacy/Columbia
Producer Sam Phillips
Jack Clement
Don Law
Frank Jones
Bob Johnston
Johnny Cash
Charlie Bragg
Brian Ahern
Earl Ball
Brian Eno
The Edge
Johnny Cash chronology
American III: Solitary Man
The Essential Johnny Cash
At Madison Square Garden
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars link

The Essential Johnny Cash is a double-compact disc compilation by Johnny Cash released as part of Sony BMG's Essential series. It was compiled to commemorate Cash's 70th birthday. It is not to be confused with the three-CD box set of the same name released by Columbia Records in 1992.

The double album concentrates mainly on Cash's first 15 years as a recording artist with Sun Records and Columbia, contains only eight post-1970 selections, and no selections from Cash's work with Rick Rubin for American Recordings: Cash's final hit single, a cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt", was released ten months later. The album was certified Gold and Platinum on 2/5/2005 by the R.I.A.A., and has sold 1,461,000 copies in the US as of August 2013.[1]

Amongst the 36 tracks on the compilation are two songs that feature Cash prominently but never appeared on any of his albums: "Girl from the North Country" from Bob Dylan's 1969 album Nashville Skyline, and "The Wanderer" from U2's 1993 album Zooropa.

As a testimony to Cash's wide sphere of influence on country, rock, and other modern musics and his wide fan base, the liner notes feature testimonials and 70th birthday greetings from a wide array of artists - not only from friends and fellow travelers and collaborators like Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Petty, ex-stepson-in-law Nick Lowe, and wife June Carter Cash, but from the likes of Keith Richards, Elvis Costello, Corey Taylor and Shawn Crahan of Slipknot, Metallica's Kirk Hammett, and Henry Rollins.

Track listing[edit]

Disc one[edit]

  1. "Hey Porter" – 2:13
  2. "Cry! Cry! Cry!" – 2:23
  3. "I Walk the Line" – 2:43
  4. "Get Rhythm" – 2:13
  5. "There You Go" – 2:17
  6. "Ballad of a Teenage Queen" (Jack Clement) – 2:11
  7. "Big River" – 2:31
  8. "Guess Things Happen That Way" (Jack Clement) – 1:49
  9. "All Over Again" – 2:12
  10. "Don't Take Your Guns to Town" – 3:02
  11. "Five Feet High and Rising" – 1:46
  12. "The Rebel - Johnny Yuma" (Richard Markowitz/Andrew Fenady) – 1:52
  13. "Tennessee Flat Top Box" – 2:58
  14. "I Still Miss Someone" (Johnny Cash/Roy Cash Jr.) – 2:34
  15. "Ring of Fire" (June Carter/Merle Kilgore) – 2:35
  16. "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" (Peter LaFarge) – 4:07
  17. "Orange Blossom Special" (E.T. Rouse) – 3:06
  18. "Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)" (traditional, arranged by Johnny Cash) – 3:51

Disc two[edit]

  1. "It Ain't Me, Babe" (Bob Dylan) – 3:03
  2. "The One on the Right Is on the Left" (Jack Clement) – 2:47
  3. "Jackson" (Jerry Leiber [as Gaby Rodgers]/Billy Edd Wheeler) – 2:44
    • Performed with June Carter Cash
  4. "Folsom Prison Blues" (live version) – 2:44
  5. "Daddy Sang Bass" (Carl Perkins) – 2:20
  6. "Girl from the North Country" (Bob Dylan) – 3:42
  7. "A Boy Named Sue" (Shel Silverstein) – 3:46
  8. "If I Were a Carpenter" (Tim Hardin) – 2:59
    • Performed with June Carter Cash
  9. "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down" (Kris Kristofferson) – 4:09
  10. "Flesh and Blood" – 2:36
  11. "Man in Black" – 2:52
  12. "Ragged Old Flag" - 3:09
  13. "One Piece at a Time" (Wayne Kemp) – 4:01
  14. "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky" (Stan Jones) – 3:44
  15. "Song of the Patriot" (Marty Robbins/S. Milete) - 3:29
    • Performed with Marty Robbins
  16. "Highwayman" (Jimmy Webb) – 3:03
  17. "The Night Hank Williams Came to Town" (B. Braddock/C. Williams) - 3:24
    • Performed with Waylon Jennings
  18. "The Wanderer" (Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen, Jr., Adam Clayton) – 4:43
    • Performed by U2 featuring Johnny Cash; from U2's album Zooropa

Disc three (3.0 version only)[edit]

  1. "What Do I Care [Album Version]" – 2:09
  2. "I Got Stripes" – 2:05
  3. "Understand Your Man" – 2:44
  4. "What Is Truth" – 2:39
  5. "Oney" (Jerry Chesnut)– 3:06
  6. "Any Old Wind That Blows" (D. Feller) – 2:47
  7. "A Thing Called Love" (Jerry Hubbard) – 2:34
  8. "Without Love" (Nick Lowe) – 2:29

All songs written by Johnny Cash except where noted.


The following people provided testimonials and/or 70th birthday greetings for the CD's liner notes (in this order):

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2002) Peak
Australian Country Albums Chart 1
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums 16
U.S. Billboard 200 35


  1. ^ Paul Grein (August 7, 2013). "Week Ending Aug. 4, 2013. Albums: Robin Thicke, Call Katy Perry". Yahoo Chart Watch.