The Rambler

Johnny Cash

The Rambler

Johnny Cash’s The Rambler is best approached as a radio play or a film soundtrack (minus the film). Alternating between dialogue and music, the 1977 album unreels the story of an unnamed drifter (played by Cash) driving from the East Coast to California in hopes of shaking the memory of lost love. Along the way, he picks up a hitchhiker, has a bad night in a bar room, and meets up with a cowgirl harboring a deadly secret. Cash (who wrote the album’s script as well as its songs) fills his tormented character with a brooding charisma lightened by flashes of downhome humor. Musically, there’s more than a hint of the classic Sun Records sound here, captured in Johnny’s reverb-tinged vocals as well as in the crisp backup of the Tennessee Three and honky-tonk pianist Earl Ball. Cash’s patented boom-chicka-boom beat gives “Hit the Road and Go” and “After the Ball” a kick, while “No Earthly Good” waltzes along country-style and “My Cowboy’s Last Ride” updates the Western ballad tradition. If taking a road trip with the Man in Black sounds up your alley, The Rambler is worth giving a spin.

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16