Entertainment Weekly

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content
Oscars 2017
Everything you need to knowDon't Miss It

Article

The Mystery of Life

Posted on

The Mystery of Life

type:
Music
Current Status:
In Season
performer:
Johnny Cash
genre:
Country

We gave it a B-

The Man in Black’s new album, The Mystery of Life, is a strange, but oddly electrifying, set of odds and ends: a throwaway tune written with Bob Dylan, a languid vocal collaboration with Tom T. Hall, a song that prophesizes the end of the world, and a remake of Cash’s chugging-train classic, ”Hey Porter.” There’s also a religious song so hokey that even Billy Graham would gag, one in which Cash declares, ”My cowboy hero hat’s off/To the man who rode a donkey/He’s the greatest cowboy of them all.” As a singer, Cash nails the notes a lot squarer than he used to, although much of the material seems left over from an earlier era. For example, the funny ”Beans for Breakfast,” in which a deserted lout wishes his wife would come home, if only to wash the dishes, is fairly sexist in a ’90s context. But the vintage Johnny Cash sound, his bass-baritone voice fronting the famous wedding of percussive acoustic guitar and single-string electric, is as fresh as the day it was born.

Comments