The Johnny Cash Children's Album

Johnny Cash

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The Johnny Cash Children's Album Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Anybody that's only familiar with Johnny Cash the outlaw or the brooding mythic figure of his latter-day albums will find the very idea of a Johnny Cash children's album improbable, or at the very least amusing. Truth is, Cash always showed a fondness for novelty tunes and silly songs, dating all the way back to his Sun sides (and this is not even counting the unintentional silliness of his corny Americana records), so it was not a stretch for Cash to do a children's album -- particularly in 1975, when he was coming off a stretch of hosting a TV variety show and about to enter a mid-career decline. It was an opportune time to kick out a good children's album, which Children's Album is, a sweet, good-natured collection of novelties, ditties, and the occasional standard. Musically, this isn't miles away from Cash's usual territory, but it's much lighter and mellower than even his poppiest work of the '60s and '70s, which only makes sense: he is singing for kids, after all. But what makes this Children's Album click is that Cash is never singing down to his audience, he's singing straight to them, just like he sings to any other audience. This lack of condescension makes up for the occasionally spotty material, as it gives the album heart and makes it an album that feels like a Johnny Cash album in addition to a kids album. In that sense, it's a good "my first Johnny Cash LP" -- it provides a good introduction to the Man in Black for little ones.

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