Today, we’re reviewing Out Among the Stars, a collection of music that Johnny Cash recorded in the 1980’s but is only now being released.
In green is my opinion. I’m familiar with some of Johnny Cash’s more popular works. I’m nowhere near a Cash aficionado, but I do enjoy his music when I hear it.
In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He is in the same boat as I. He is familiar with some of Cash’s stuff, but he isn’t an expert by any means. He is eager to hear what this new album has to offer.
Let’s get started!
Out Among the Stars
Ladies and gentlemen, this highly anticipated album begins with a road-trip song that the kids are sure to shake their heads at while their parents blast it in the car. Yes, that is a great thing. When the youth hates music, it is typically a sure sign that the music is in fact good. The steel guitar is a welcome touch to the song, adding some playful flavor to the simple verses. The chorus is friendly yet also sentimental, as it so clearly connects to Cash and his passing. “To fly like eagles out among the stars.” This is a fantastic song to kick off the album.
Johnny Cash’s once lost album begins with a typical sounding song from Johnny that comes with a nice message. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the typical sound, however, as it is what made Cash the Man in Black. This title track is a great way to kick off the album. It is great to hear that Out Among the Stars starts off with some pure Cash!
Baby Ride Easy
Baby Ride Easy is a fun, lighthearted track that is sure to remedy anyone’s poor mood. The fast pace as well as the constant trading and sharing of lines keeps the song engaging and interesting. The verses have a strong sense of adventure to them, and that adventurous feeling does not disappear in the midst of the chorus. The whole song is tightly knit and easy to enjoy. Oh, and Dancing Nancies anyone?
Baby Ride Easy is a perfect snapshot of the past, displaying how great classic country music sounded. The lyrics are funny and the guitar playing is fast paced, moving the song along at a great pace. The backing vocals are a nice touch as well. I would love to hear a live male and female duet version of this song!
She Used to Love Me a Lot
She Used to Love Me a Lot is a reflective song that is both sad and dark. Despite the constant offsetting between Cash’s tone and the smooth guitar, the song still works, all parts assembling to create a surprisingly cohesive song built upon somber memories. This track is a great one.
Although love is usually a worn-out, generic topic, especially in music, She Used to Love Me a Lot is an exception. It contains some great acoustics and tells a nice story. This song is easy to listen to and can be enjoyed by anyone.
Not many men on this planet have the depth of Frank Sinatra’s voice, but After All exemplifies the Sinatra sound in almost every way. Cash’s baritone isn’t even close to touching Sinatra’s range, but the similarities in the music are undoubtedly apparent. The bell-like sounds, the piano, the lyrics, and the execution is more Sinatra than Cash, and you won’t hear me complaining about that. The song is a bold attempt by Cash to do something different, and he is successful at doing so, though I can’t help but feel that the clean white doesn’t fit Cash as well as the gritty black.
The intro to this song reminds me of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird. I love the piano on this track, as it establishes a melancholy mood. Listening to it, I imagine a cold, dark night with grey clouds in the sky and rain falling down like hot cakes. After All is a sad-sounding song that reminds me of a ballad. It is a solid slow song.
I’m Movin’ On
The energy that bursts from I’m Movin’ On is contagious. The quip at the beginning gets me smiling, and to make things even better, the crackhead on the piano is killing it. I don’t know what exactly Cash is trying to say, but it doesn’t matter. This song makes your legs dance, and it is a pleasant pick-me-up after the solemn After All.
The comment at the beginning of the song reminds me of something that Dave Matthews would say. After that little intro, I’m Moving On sounds and plays like the exact opposite of After All. This song is fast and more alive. I can imagine square dancing to this song, followed by downing a nice glass of Cream Soda. Oh, you thought I was going to say beer? Beer is for yellerbellies! Yee haw! Now let’s have a hoedown with this song playing! Thank you Cash for getting me into a country party mood.
If I Told You Who It Was
Cash revisits whatever part of his mind helped to yield the cleverly humorous Boy Named Sue and produces yet another song with the same merits. If I Told You Who It Was is hilarious, fun, and catchy. This song is a great treat that is well-appreciated.
I don’t know what to say about this song. I could not stop laughing because the storytelling on this track is funny! I love that deep bass sound, as it keeps the song catchy.
Call Your Mother
I’m not sure about the meaning of this song. It seems to be very personal to Cash, which is fine. His steak is his steak. It’s not meant to be my steak. In that case, however, he shouldn’t have put his personal steak on the menu. This is yet another song that is haunting solely due to the fact that it is as if Cash wrote this to be played after his death. Call Your Mother isn’t a track that I would return to often, but it does have a spot, no matter how unrelateable, on this posthumous album.
From the title of the song, I thought Call Your Mother (not literally) would be fitting to play on Mother’s Day. Then I carefully listened to the lyrics. I don’t understand if this is supposed to be a happy song or the opposite. The track plays with your mind, though it does have a nice message in the chorus.
I Drove Her Out of My Mind
I Drove Her Out of My Mind is Johnny Cash’s own version of Eminem’s last verse of Stan. The whole endeavor is clever. I love that the backup singers add an extra layer to the ironic joy. This short track is hilarious. This song is within the same realm of Boy Named Sue and company, and I am completely fine with that. I Drove Her Out of My Mind is a song that will have you smiling ear to ear.
You can easily tell that this is a breakup song, but it is not the depressing type. It seems like Cash does not give a crap that he is breaking up and decides to live life to the fullest. I like that Cash treats the breakup as a joke, which is completely ironic for a song about breaking up with your girl. It is different, and I like it for being different. Do not let a girl ruin your life.
Perhaps I need to get married in order to connect to this song, but as it stands, Tennessee bores me (I’m not referring to the state, I’m referring to the song. But that state is probably boring as well). Cash stoops low lyrically and sings about what every other country singer sings about nowadays. Land. Their state. Jeans. The chorus of children at the latter end of the song sounds pretty right on, but regardless, Tennessee is not a favorite of mine.
Wait. We go from a song about a break-up to a song about getting married? My mind is blown. Anyway, Tennessee seems to be a song about a son writing a letter to his mom about the start of a new life with his wife, detailing all of the plans they have. I love this song for that reason, and any newly-wed should be able to relate to it right away. Another cheerful song from Johnny. It’s pure genius, and the kids singing at the end with the applause sound nice as well. Tennessee is presented in such a way that you would think it was a live performance of a letter. Cash essentially transformed words into a motion picture.
Rock and Roll Shoes
The classic sound this song has is admirable, but it isn’t a very dynamic song as a whole. I could have done without Rock and Roll Shoes.
Rock and Roll Shoes opened up sounding exactly how I though it would: early 50’s Rock. The rest of the song has that 50’s feel as well, reminding me of Elvis. It is a nice homage to how the early days of rock sounded before it got crazy with all of the amps and equipment we have today.
Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time
The acoustics on this track faintly resemble Jack Johnson’s What You Thought You Need. I really dig the sound of the guitar and banjo working together. They leave some room open for Cash and his wife to tackle lackluster lyrics. The music in Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time is fantastic, and they could have served as a solid foundation for a wonderful song, but the lyrics fell short. This track was a missed opportunity.
Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time is a nice duet love song that I have been waiting to hear! I am not a fan of the female vocals, however. The woman could easily be replaced with someone else in today’s country world like Kimberly Perry of The Band Perry. Still, this is a breezy song that I wish was longer.
I Came to Believe
Cash’s faith has always been an integral part of both his persona and personal life, and this song conveys that clearly. This is a straight-up church song, and while it is underwhelming as the concluding track to this solid album, it still has a place somewhere in the pews.
I Came to Believe is likely the final song we will ever get from the Man in Black. It is a great way to say farewell to the country king. Once again I love the piano, as it gives the song life. At the same time, Cash’s vocals sound sad. The song is stuck at a crossroad. Still, I Came to Believe is wonderful song to end the album with. I am glad we could listen to this wonderful album. You will be missed, Johnny Cash, but your legacy will live on along with this album. Thank you all once again for reading another review!
My Top 3
Baby Ride Easy
I’m Movin’ On
I Drove Her Out of My Mind
Robby’s Top 3
Out Among the Stars
Overall, this Cash album is a greatly enjoyable T-Bone. There is plenty of material present that is both fun and sentimental to fit your personal tastes, and a few surprises laced within the Cash we have come to know and love. I would recommend that you give this album a fair listen. It is definitely something that was worth releasing after laying sedentary for thirty years.