The Baron

Johnny Cash

The Baron

The early '80s found Johnny Cash dealing with the changing demands of the country music marketplace. Despite some rocky career moments, the Man in Black managed to turn in credible work during this period, as 1981's The Baron shows. Produced by Billy Sherrill (known for his hits with George Jones and Tammy Wynette), the album gives Cash some substantial tunes to sink his teeth into, as well as lighter fare to have fun with. The centerpiece is the title track, a story-song reminiscent of Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler.” Performed by Johnny with burly gravitas, it went on to become a U.S. Top 10*** single and was later adapted into a TV movie with Cash in the title role. Strong narrative lines also drive “The Reverend Mr. Black” (first popularized by The Kingston Trio in 1963) and “A Ceiling, Four Walls and a Floor” (a crime-and-punishment tale written by the great Tom T. Hall). Johnny gets nostalgic on “Mobile Bay,” takes a wild Tennessee trip on “Chattanooga City Limit Sign,” and delivers a stinging kiss-off on “Thanks to You.”

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