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From the liner notes:
On a hot summer afternoon in New York City, June and I walked through the zoo in Central Park. It was a hot dog and ice cream day. The place was crowded and giving up on the hassle of working our way through the crowd, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the concert that night at Garden State Art Center. As we approached the hotel, I saw a bum lying on the sidewalk in front of the hotel. He never even opened his eyes when I stood over him. June said, “Come on, honey, let’s go.” But I said, “Just a minute.” I walked around him, hoping he wasn’t dead. My shadow fell across him and when I moved on, I saw his eyes flutter as the bright sunlight hit his face. He didn’t open his eyes, but I knew he wasn’t dead. “What are you doing?” June asked. “I’m just thinking about my friend here,” I said. “That could have been me you know.” June came over closer and smiled at me. “That was you a couple of times.” Then she said again, “Come on, let’s go.”
The rest of the story is in the song, I became that man. I put myself in his place and in my mind, he finally won. I wish I knew who he is, and where he is. I’d send him a piece of Strawberry Cake. – Johnny Cash
By your possession of this album, you can consider yourself having been present twenty years ago in 1955 at the start of a career and a sound at Sun Records Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, as Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two cut their first record… to as recently as September 1975 when Johnny Cash presented at London England’s Palladium his Johnny Cash Concert. From the standpoint of “sound,” to have been present at one would be the same as having attended the other.
Time change, tastes change, and in order to conform some artists must change. Johnny Cash changed in keeping with the times; but, as it turned out, not in keeping with tastes. Many opinions were expressed to John and me, as to what should be done for the sake of conformity. Innovations were tried — new arrangements — different material — engineering “gimmicks,” but fortunately one item defied change. Through it all the voice and style remained constant and identifiable, admittedly almost unrecognizable in come cases, nevertheless still there. If any change is perceptible in today’s recordings, as compared to those of twenty years ago, that change is of time as related to maturity of voice.
This album, then, brings us around full circle. Back to the start of a career and sound. To a point from which a digression was never needed. Here is what you have demanded: The basic, honest, up-front Johnny Cash… better than ever! – Charlie Bragg
Recorded Live At The Palladium, London England