JCLAs you know, I love reading biographies of notables of the century just past. There is something about a life that began and ended within the 20th century (more or less) that I find particularly compelling. When the subject is a personal favorite and an icon like Mr. Johnny Cash, then it is a particular attraction – which is why I just devoured the new book, Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn.

The life of Johnny Cash is probably one of the more documented lives of the past several decades. In life Mr. Cash wrote songs about his troubles and was always quite candid about his life. Meanwhile, others have written many books about him, some not very flattering. In addition, he has been the subject of an Oscar-winning film. With all that came before, Mr. Hilburn has brought us a fresh and well-research biography of the Man in Black, which covers much of the same ground as past biographies but manages to bring nuances and clarity to the story we thought we knew.

About Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn: “The definitive, intimate, no-holds-barred biography of Johnny Cash. People don’t just listen to Johnny Cash–they believe in him. Although part of his life has been told on film, there are many compelling layers to his story that have remained hidden–until now. Robert Hilburn tells the unvarnished truth about a musical icon whose personal life was far more troubled and his artistry much more profound than even his most devoted fans have realized. As music critic for the Los Angeles Times, Hilburn knew Cash well throughout his life–he was the only music journalist at the legendary Folsom Prison concert in 1968, and he interviewed him extensively just before Cash’s death in 2003. Drawing upon his personal experience with Cash and a trove of never-before seen material from the singer’s inner circle, Hilburn gives us a compelling, human portrait of one of the most iconic figures in modern popular culture–not only a towering figure in country music, but also a seminal influence in rock.”

There is no doubt that Mr. Cash was a complex man. In Johnny Cash: The Life, we are treated to a portrait of the man that goes well beyond the façade of the great entertainer to help us understand his influence and lasting legacy.

Johnny Cash: The Life is available from Amazon and other fine book retailers.