A Fond Farewell
"Like the 309," the last song written by Johnny Cash before his death, is included on "American V: A Hundred Highways." Due this week via American Recordings/Lost Highway, the album was recorded with"Like the 309," the last song written by Johnny Cash before his death, is included on "American V: A Hundred Highways." Due this week via American Recordings/Lost Highway, the album was recorded with producer Rick Rubin in the months leading up to Cash's September 2003 passing.
"These songs are Johnny's final statement," Rubin says. "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."
A song utilizing one of Cash's favorite subjects, trains, "Like the 309" is one of two original songs on the disc. The other, "I Came to Believe," was written and recorded earlier in his career about addiction and salvation through a higher power. The balance of the set includes such songs as Bruce Springsteen's "Further On (Up the Road)," Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind," Hank Williams' "On the Evening Train," Rod McKuen's "Love's Been Good to Me" and the traditional spiritual "God's Gonna Cut You Down."
"I think that 'American V' may be my favorite of all of the albums in the American series," Rubin says. "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."
Cash began work on "American V" the day after completing 2002’s "American IV," according to Rubin, using the process to help him navigate the period after his wife June Carter Cash's May 2003 death. "Johnny said that recording was his main reason for being alive," Rubin says. "And I think it was the only thing that kept him going, the only thing he had to look forward to."