By Michael Streissguth
Johnny Cash is bigger than life, surrounded by myths and legends, a notoriously hard-drinking, hard-drugging man who sings searing songs of death, loss, God, and work. Since his debut in 1955, he has come to embody country music as well as the spirit of defiance and rebellion that drives rock, and has garnered an immense audience along the way, selling more than 50 million albums and winning more than 10 GRAMMY awards. He is universally acknowledged as one of the musical giants of the century. In Ring of Fire, some of our best music writers consider Cash decade by decade in a collection of thirty-two classic articles and essays. They follow him from his birth in 1932 to his meteoric rise to fame in the late ’60s and early ’70s, through his two-decade slump and his musical resurgence in the 1990s, through the phenomenal new albums he made in the face of a diagnosed nerve disease. Ring of Fire takes the Reader format and transforms it into the best kind of biography: complex, insightful, and multifaceted.