No matter what genre of music that most people prefer, Johnny Cash is still a well-loved musical artist to the masses. Something about his deep, crooning, country voice soothes the mind and lifts one’s spirits. Though I generally tend to prefer rock or alternative rock music to anything else, I still enjoy classic country music now and again, and one of the only country albums that I own and that I listen to regularly (besides the works of Garth Brooks, of course), is Johnny Cash’s “16 Biggest Hits,” a sixteen-track (duh), fifty-four minutes and fifty-eight second long (54:58) album that leaves me feeling contented and peaceful after every listen.
Almost every song on this incredible album ought to be easily recognizable by most, and there are at least three or four songs on this album that even the youngest of generations ought to know one or two of. Of course, “I Walk the Line” is an astounding Johnny Cash classic that was even recently featured in a commercial for jeans. Additionally, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy singing and giggling along to the last verse or two of “A Boy Named Sue” “My name is Sue/ how do you do/ now you gonna die!” (A Boy Named Sue). As with any great compilation of music, the listeners of Johnny Cash’s “16 Biggest Hits” are left feeling both the emotions that the songs project, as well as a strong ability to relate to each song in a personal way. The guitar on these songs especially is true to country music; it’s deliciously twangy.
“Man In Black,” though I had not heard it before purchasing this album, quickly became one of my favorite songs of all time. This song remains classic in that the issues that it addresses are not only ones of Johnny Cash’s younger years, but ones that will probably, and unfortunately, span all generations now as well as those yet to come. “I wear the black for the poor and beaten down/ living on the hopeless hungry side of town/…but just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back/ up front there ought to be a man in black/…well there’s things that never will be right I know/ and things need changing everywhere you go…” (Man In Black) These lyrics are timeless and inspire and remind me after every listen to be grateful for the good things in my life and to not forget those who are less fortunate than I am. The song itself does feel somewhat depressing and moderately oppressive. It doesn’t end on a happy note or with any sort of finality. I definitely recommend giving this song a good, thorough listening to.
While many of the songs on this album are fairly short, averaging at about two-and-a-half minutes long (especially “I Walk the Line,” “Daddy Sang Bass,” and “Ring of Fire”), it is easy to overlook the length of these songs, or, more appropriately, their lack of any sort of substantial length, because they are all such memorable classics. Other songs on the album, perhaps ones that are lesser known to most casual listeners of the genre, are considerably longer, especially ‘The Legend of John Henry’s Hammer,” which runs at eight minutes and twenty-six seconds long (8:26).
I have found this album to be a must-have for road trips, especially those with mixed generations traveling together. So many of the songs on this wonderful album are known by younger generations, and I would be surprised if any of the older generations were unfamiliar with a single track on Johnny Cash’s “16 Biggest Hits.”
Overall, I found this to be an exceptionally enjoyable album. After listening to “16 Biggest Hits” numerous times, I never got sick of listening to the album. Instead, I now plan to look into purchasing other Johnny Cash albums. The album’s quality is outstanding; both as far as instrumentals as well as lyrics go. I know that listening to this album always brings back memories for me. It is easy for me to associate times or events in my life to the songs on “16 Biggest Hits.” Singing along to each of the songs always puts a big smile on my face. These songs are fantastic, unforgettable, stirring, and timeless, and therefore, no one ought to travel without this album accompanying them!
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