December 4, 2007

Redemption Songs

I'm no stranger to the American Recording's America. I live there. It's so many members of my family. It's the bars I go to. It's the people that I live among. I've been to its physical and emotional prisons. This album isn't cultural tourism for me (as I suspect it is for the live audiences in tracks 9 and 13). I understand the redemption-centric philosophies the personal demons and the anger and the pain.

I can appreciate the stark absolute beauty of Cash's wise, gentle voice but there's no part of me that wants to ever listen to this album again. I don't want to hear his stories of wallowing self-pity and endless regret. Who needs that? Perhaps to some his sentiment is reaffirming or cathartic or relaxing or even beautiful. But my tastes lean more towards life-affirming and daring and adventurous and even beautiful. Listening to music should not equate to attending an AA meeting.

I'm not denying American Recordings place on the Rolling Stone 500. It's infinitely interesting and representative of our America. Just like the Man in Black it's full of quirks and emotional power and contradictions and grace. However, the path it takes is laden in darkness and horror; a misery the album concludes that only Christ can solve.

And that's not a path I'm willing to take.

1 comment:

Eurowags said...

I totally agree. I tried listening attentively to this album, but was mainly put off by the deeply methodical and almost monotonous meloncholy. When "Tennesse Stud", one of the few uplifting, humorous, and upbeat moments came, I was almost ecstatic. Plus, that's a killer tune, one covered by him previously in a period of his work that surpasses his 90s resurgence.