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The album is a continuation of the highly popular and critically acclaimed series of American recordings produced by Rick Rubin. The series began with 1994's acclaimedAmerican Recordings, followed by Unchained (1996), American III: Solitary Man (2000) and American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002). AMERICAN V contains 12 tracks and includes one Johnny original, 'Like The 309' (the last song that Johnny wrote and recorded before he died).
Captures a man of hard-won grace whose fire burned bright even as it was being snuffed out. -- New York Post - 4 Stars
Cash makes it clear that the prison he always sang about was his mortal body and the world. -- Rolling Stone - 4 Stars
Cash's voice...filled with conviction and fire. He sounds like a man testifying before God at his own funeral. -- "i"Interview Magazine - Sound Advice - July 2006"br""br"His final work echoes his first....sets out a road map for one final highway. -- "i"USA Today - 3 1/2 out of 4 Stars - 7/3"br""br"It's as if his voice has reached from beyond the grave, having found sweet liberty in the afterlife. -- People - Critics Choice - 4 Stars
Recorded before his death three years ago, Johnny Cash's latest shows he still has the power. -- "i"Entertainment Weekly - A-"br""br"This is exactly how he deserves to be remembered. -- "i"Esquire - August 2006"br""br"You get the feeling Cash took a hard look at death, smiled slightly and went on to the next song. -- "i"The Tennessean - 4 Stars
"I think that 'American V' may be my favorite of all of the albums in the American series," said Rubin. "It's different from the others, it has a much different character. I think that this is as strong an album as Johnny ever made."
The months following the May, 2004 passing of his wife June Carter Cash, were among the most physically and emotionally painful times in Cash's life, but keeping focused on the recording of "American V: A Hundred Highways" proved to be his salvation. Rubin remembers, "Johnny said that recording was his main reason for being alive, and I think it was the only thing that kept him going, the only thing he had to look forward to.""p"Cash and Rubin began recording the songs that would find their way onto "American V: A Hundred Highways" in 2002, specifically on the day after they finished "American IV: The Man Comes Around" which was released that November. Johnny feared that "American IV" might be his last release, so Rubin suggested that he immediately begin writing and recording new material. Over the next eight months, songs were cut at Rubin's Los Angeles studio and in Nashville at Johnny's main home and at his fabled cabin located across the road. Due to Cash's frail health, Rubin arranged for an engineer and guitar players to always be on call for the days that Cash felt strong enough to work.
"He always wanted to work," said Rubin. "Every morning when he'd wake up, he would call the engineer and tell him if he was physically up to working that day. Our main concern was to get a great vocal performance. Johnny would record a song, send it to me and I would build a new track up under it. In the past, at the end of this process, he'd come to L.A. And we'd go through everything together, he would re-record any vocal bits that needed re-recording. But this time, we didn't have that opportunity."
"With all of the albums Johnny and I made together, our goal was for each one to be the best it could possibly be, and that remained the case with 'American V,'" Rick explained.
"We felt Johnny's presence during the whole process through to the end," said Rubin. "It felt like he was directing the proceedings, and I know that the musicians all felt that as well. Almost all of the songs were cut solely to Johnny's original vocal tracks, the musicians all keyed off his voice and were playing to him, supporting the emotion of his performance. More than once, Fergie and I would look at each other and say 'Johnny would love this,' because it was so good and so different from anything we'd done before, we knew he would be excited by what was happening."
It was decided to wait to release "American V: A Hundred Highways" until the recent Cash hubbub had run its course. What separates this album from the re-packages, compilations, movie soundtracks and everything else that has surfaced since Johnny's passing is, according to Rubin, "These songs are Johnny's final statement. They are the truest reflection of the music that was central to his life at the time. This is the music that Johnny wanted us to hear."
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