Songs of Our Soil
Songs of Our Soil marks an early exploration by Johnny Cash of the Americana themes that would become more fully realized on subsequent albums. While this release might be slotted in the folk category, Cash’s take on the genre is very much his own. A sense of compassion for the downtrodden—as well as respect for the resiliency of the common man—runs through songs like “Five Foot High and Rising,” “The Man on the Hill,” and “Old Apache Squaw.” Original folk-styled tunes like “Clementine” and “Hank and Joe and Me” fit comfortably with a rendition of Henry Clay Work’s 1876 song “My Grandfather’s Clock” and an adaptation of the traditional English ballad “Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes.” Cash’s dark gravitas is especially affecting when he touches on mortality and the afterlife, as in “The Caretaker” and “Don’t Step on Mother’s Roses.” A lighthearted take of “I Want to Go Home” (a.k.a. “Sloop John B.”) helps balance the album’s more dire moments. Songs of Our Soil closes with “It Could Be You (Instead of Him),” a meditation on justice and the workings of fate.