Johnny Cash

At Madison Square Garden

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Not released until 2002, all 26 of these songs -- adding up to a generous 77 minutes -- were recorded at Cash's successful show at Madison Square Garden in New York on December 5, 1969. Two best-selling live late-'60s Cash albums, At Folsom Prison and At San Quentin, have long been available, and it will be pretty difficult for this to dislodge those in prominence among those scouting for live material in the Cash catalog. Still, it's a good document of Cash as he reached the apex of his mainstream popularity. Also, its setting in a large, popular venue by itself guaranteed that the ambience would be somewhat different than it would be on the two aforementioned live albums, both recorded in prisons. While Cash has a full band (including Carl Perkins on electric guitar and his longtime associate Marshall Grant on bass), the sound, to its credit, remains spare. The sound is not amazingly top-of-the-line, but it's pretty good, and the repertoire is extremely varied, taking in oldies like "Big River," "I Still Miss Someone," "Long Black Veil," and "Folsom Prison"; his then-recent smashes "Boy Named Sue" and "Daddy Sang Bass"; the Americana and Native American advocacy of songs like "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" and "Remember the Alamo"; the spiritual "Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord"); and Ed McCurdy's anti-war folk revival tune "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream." There are also guest star turns for Carl Perkins (who does "Blue Suede Shoes"), the Statler Brothers (who do their hit "Flowers on the Wall"), and the Carter Family, whose two songs are actually vivacious highlights of the disc, and a good change of pace from Cash's customary low chug. Between-song raps on the Vietnam War, prison, and other topics testify to Cash's ability to reach out to all stripes of his constituency, though the finale medley (and the bits near the end announcing the renewal of his TV show and explaining pregnant June Carter's absence) are a tad showbizzy.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:21 Amazon
2 1:37 Amazon
3 2:51 Amazon
4 2:35 Amazon
5 2:48 Amazon
6 3:03 SpotifyAmazon
7 2:14 Amazon
8 3:01 Amazon
9 1:08 Amazon
10 2:36 Amazon
11 3:34 Amazon
feat: Carl Perkins
3:12 Amazon
13 2:31 Amazon
14 3:45 Amazon
15 1:39 Amazon
16 4:25 Amazon
17 1:57 Amazon
18 3:40 Amazon
19 3:11 Amazon
20 3:50 SpotifyAmazon
feat: Anita Carter
3:32 Amazon
feat: Anita Carter
3:16 Amazon
23 4:16 SpotifyAmazon
24 2:15 Amazon
25 4:44 Amazon
26 2:55 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick