I Walk the Line

I Walk the Line

In between thematic albums about working men and Native Americans, Johnny Cash rerecorded a batch of his early Sun hits and released them on Columbia in 1964 as I Walk the Line. These versions stick close to the originals, with their boom-chicka-boom rhythms and sparse, reverb-tinged arrangements. Cash leads the Tennessee Two through signature tunes like “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hey Porter," and the title track with his typical brooding aplomb, veering from the hits to reconsider lesser-known cuts like the old-time country standard “Wreck of the Old 97,” and the Gene Autry-composed “Goodbye, Little Darlin,’ Goodbye.” “I Still Miss Someone” is also revised with added acoustic twang and a stronger beat. While these rerecordings are perfectly valid, it’s the new tunes included here that make this album truly worthy of note. In particular, the Cash-penned “Understand Your Man” (a kiss-off ballad written in the style of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”) and “Bad News” (a comical tale of an outlaw gigolo who’s too tough for hanging) are worth hearing for their ornery attitudes and down-home humor.

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