ON THIS DATE (May 23, 2000) Johnny Cash: Love, God, Murder is released.

May 23, 1971 – Johnny Cash: Love, God, Murder is released.
RF Rating 4.5/5
# Allmusic 4/5 stars

# Rolling Stone 4.5/5 stars

Love, God, Murder is a Johnny Cash compilation box set released in 2000. It features three themed CDs of songs Cash chose from his catalog. Love features relationship songs, mostly written for June Carter Cash. God is a collection of Gospel and spiritual songs. Murder features another recurring topic of Cash’s career, and perhaps his favorite subject, but one that he encouraged people “not to go out and do”. Each album was also released separately on the same day. In 2004 Life, a fourth compilation was released.

Although the three albums within the box set are compilations, they demonstrate Cash’s lifelong affection for releasing concept albums. Examples of previous Cash albums based around a common theme include Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian (1964), Sings the Ballads of the True West (1965), America: A 200-Year Salute in Story and Song (1972) and The Rambler (1977).

Each of the three discs contains liner notes by a celebrity. Love has liner notes by Cash’s wife, June Carter Cash, U2’s frontman Bono contributes liner notes for God, and Murder’s liner notes are by film director Quentin Tarantino.

REVIEW by Richie Unterberger, allmusic.com

Each of the three CDs in this box set are comprised of 16 songs devoted to a single theme: love, God, and murder, of course. And each of the three CDs is available separately should you not have a yen for one or two of the discs. Certainly there is a lot of notable music on this box, as it was personally chosen by Cash himself from recordings spanning the mid-’50s to the mid-’90s, mostly heavily weighting the 1955-70 period. There are a few well-known classics here that virtually anyone considering buying this will already know (and probably have), like “I Walk the Line,” “I Still Miss Someone,” “Ring of Fire,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and “The Long Black Veil.” The emphasis, however, is on LP tracks, B-sides, and live recordings that probably won’t be familiar to the moderate Cash fan; there are also three mid-’60s tracks previously unreleased in the U.S., though none of them are particularly outstanding. Some of those obscure songs are excellent (“Oh, What a Dream,” the brutal hangman humor of “Joe Bean,” “Mister Garfield”) and almost all of them are worth hearing. And each of the CDs is decorated by liner notes from Cash and a celebrity (his wife June Carter for Love, Bono of U2 for God, and director Quentin Tarantino for Murder). The question still nags: who exactly will find this box wholly satisfying? Not the average Cash fan, who wants a smaller greatest-hits set with more familiar tunes. Not the rabid Cash fan, who probably already has much of this, and might want more well-balanced and thorough boxes, such as those issued on Bear Family of Cash’s early material. It’s for the in-betweeners, who certainly find the more conventional box retrospective The Essential Johnny Cash 1955-1983 the essential first stop.

* Allmusic 4.5/5 stars link

Track listing
1. “I Walk the Line” (Cash) – 2:46
2. “Oh, What a Dream” (Cash) – 2:03
3. “All Over Again” (Cash) – 2:07
4. “Little at a Time” (Cash, Terry) – 1:57
5. “My Old Faded Rose” (Cash, Cash) – 2:53
6. “Happiness Is You” (Cash, Cash) – 2:57
7. “Flesh and Blood” (Cash) – 2:40
8. “I Tremble for You” (Cash, DeWitt) – 2:15
9. “I Feel Better All Over” (Rogers, Smith) – 2:04
10. “‘Cause I Love You” (Cash) – 1:47
11. “Ballad of Barbara” (Cash) – 3:49
12. “Ring of Fire” (Carter, Kilgore) – 2:39
13. “My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You” (Ross, Wills) – 2:26
14. “While I’ve Got It on My Mind” (Cash) – 2:21
15. “I Still Miss Someone” (Cash, Cash) – 2:35
16. “The One Rose (That’s Left in My Heart)” (Lyon, McIntire) – 2:27

* Allmusic 3.5/5 stars link

Another feature of Cash’s career is his affinity for another type of album centered around a single topic: gospel albums. God pulls from a vast catalog of spiritual songs that includes the albums Hymns by Johnny Cash (1959), Hymns from the Heart (1962), Sings Precious Memories (1975), Believe in Him (1986) and My Mother’s Hymn Book (2004).

Track listing
1. “What on Earth Will You Do (For Heaven’s Sake)” (Cash) – 2:09
2. “My God is Real” (Morris) – 2:01
3. “It Was Jesus” (Cash) – 2:06
4. “Why Me Lord?” (Kristofferson) – 2:22
5. “The Greatest Cowboy of Them All” (Cash) – 3:58
6. “Redemption” (Cash) – 3:04
7. “Great Speckled Bird” (Carter, Smith) – 2:11
8. “The Old Account” (Traditional) – 2:25
9. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” (Traditional) – 1:53
10. “When He Comes” (Cash) – 3:33
11. “The Kneeling Drunkard’s Plea” (Carter, Carter, Carter, Cash) – 2:33
12. “Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)” (Traditional) – 3:54
13. “Man in White” (Cash) – 5:33
14. “Belshazzar” (Cash) – 2:26
15. “Oh, Bury Me Not (Introduction: A Cowboy’s Prayer)” (Lomax, Lomax, Rogers, Spencer) – 3:55
16. “Oh Come, Angel Band” (Cash) – 2:44

* Allmusic 4.5/5 stars link

Track listing
1. “Folsom Prison Blues” (Cash) – 2:52
2. “Delia’s Gone” (Silbersdorf, Toops) – 2:18
3. “Mr. Garfield” (Elliott) – 4:39
4. “Orleans Parish Prison” (Feller) – 2:30
5. “When It’s Springtime in Alaska (It’s Forty Below)” (Franks, Horton) – 2:40
6. “The Sound of Laughter” (Howard) – 2:38
7. “Cocaine Blues” (Arnall) – 2:50
8. “Hardin Wouldn’t Run” (Cash) – 4:22
9. “Long Black Veil” (Dill, Wilkin) – 3:07
10. “Austin Prison” (Cash) – 2:10
11. “Joe Bean” (Freeman, Pober) – 3:09
12. “Going to Memphis” (Cash, Dew, Lomax) – 4:22
13. “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town” (Cash) – 3:05
14. “Highway Patrolman” (Bruce Springsteen) – 5:22
15. “Jacob Green” (Cash) – 3:06
16. “The Wall” (Howard) – 2:10

Released March 23, 2004
* Allmusic 4/5 stars link

As a result of the success of the first three collections, in 2004, a fourth volume, Life, was released. It mostly features songs about social and economic struggle.

Track listing
1. “Suppertime” (Ira Stanphill) – 2:51
2. “Country Trash” (Cash) – 2:25
3. “The Night Hank Williams Came to Town” (Braddock, Williams) – 3:22
4. “Time Changes Everything” (Duncan) – 1:51
5. “I Talk to Jesus Every Day” (Tubb) – 2:04
6. “You’re the Nearest Thing to Heaven” (Atkins, Cash, Johnson) – 2:40
7. “I’m Ragged But I’m Right” (Cash) – 2:37
8. “These Are My People” (Cash) – 2:38
9. “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” (Peter LaFarge) – 4:09
10. “Oney” (Chestnut) – 3:08
11. “Man in Black” (Cash) – 2:53
12. “I’m Alright Now” (Hensley) – 2:41
13. “Ragged Old Flag” (Cash) – 3:08
14. “I Wish I Was Crazy Again” (McDill) – 2:44
15. “Where Did We Go Right” (Loggins, Schlitz) – 2:58
16. “Wanted Man” (live) (Bob Dylan) – 2:59
17. “I Can’t Go on That Way” (Cash) – 2:33
Outtake from The Rambler (1976)
18. “Lead Me Gently Home” (Thompson) – 1:59


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