Johnny Cash / At San Quentin

Day 8. Influential albums.

My next pick represents my dive into the folk, country (the real stuff), and country blues. There are so many artists... Dave Van Ronk, Mississippi John Hurt, Mississippi Fred MacDowell, June Carter Cash, Elizabeth Cotten, the Kossoy Sisters... I have to settle on one, on one album, so here goes:

Johnny Cash / At San Quentin
Released 1969

The banter, the hard-edged jokes, the wild, truly wild roar of the crowd, the iconic album cover, and the thought of sweet June Carter Cash the only woman in the room. It all makes for an intense recording.

Only Johnny Cash could pull off playing the song "San Quentin" twice to the audience of incarcerated men at that very prison. Only Johnny Cash could pull off putting that on a recording - the same song back to back - as on the top of side B. That's the Man in Black.

His voice. June's voice. Another inspiring and fascinating couple in the music world.

American folk music has been so important to me. It has a range from soft and sweet to swaggering and dark. It's inspired so many musicians. It's roots are enmeshed with slavery and poverty, deep American history. It's easy to forget when I tune into the radio and hear a trite pop song, but that shadow is there.