Johnny Cash at Madison Square Garden is an album by Johnny Cash that was recorded in December 1969 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, but which was not released until 2002 (making it his 86th album overall).
The album was recorded just 4 months after Cash’s seminal At San Quentin was released, which is probably why it was not released soon after its recording. As with all Cash live shows of this period, he was backed up by the Tennessee Three, which consisted of W.S. Holland, Marshall Grant and Bob Wooton. After the first 11 songs, Johnny Cash took a short break and the guests stepped up to the plate with their current hits. As if Johnny wasn’t enough, we get Carl Perkins and The Statler Brothers in tremendous form. The Carter Family was a standard part of the Johnny Cash Show, and it is a real treat hearing Mother Maybelle with her daughters. They also performs back up vocals on many of the songs.
As with most Cash shows, the genres covered ran the gamut from country music to rockabilly to even some folk rock. Similarly to “Johnny Cash At San Quentin”, Johnny Cash at Madison Square Garden includes numbers performed by Perkins, the Statlers and the Carters while Johnny was offstage.
It is an absolute must have for any Johnny Cash fan! I still wonder why Sony took 33 years to release this gem.
“I woke up this mornin’ and none of the news was good And death machines were rumblin’ ‘cross the ground where Jesus stood And the man on my TV told me that it had always been that way And there was nothin’ anyone could do or say
And I almost listened to him Yeah, I almost lost my mind Then I regained my senses again And looked into my heart to find
That I believe that one fine day all the children of Abraham Will lay down their swords forever in Jerusalem” – Steve Earle (Jerusalem)
Steve Earle released this “protest album” post 9/11, but contrary to widespread belief it is not a concept album about the tragic events on that date. Yes, there are some songs relating to it, but only three out of eleven (maybe four). There were som controversy when it came out, especially the song John Walker’s Blues were widely discussed and often slated in right wing media. It is not a song that takes sides, it is a song that tells us that an ordinary American kid fell in with the wrong crowd (in this case, the Taliban). Earle make us look at this boy, and he does not say that he is innocent, but he says that he should be treated like a human being despite his faults and despite his guilt. It is a fantastic song.
“…Earle has crafted a vision of America thrown into chaos, where the falling of the World Trade Center towers is just another symbol of a larger malaise which surrounds us. Before its release,Jerusalem already generated no small controversy over the song “John Walker’s Blues,” which tells the tale of “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh as seen through his own eyes. While “John Walker’s Blues” is no more an endorsement of Lindh’s actions than Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” was a tribute to mass-murderer Charles Starkweather, even though it’s one of the album’s strongest songs, if anything, it doesn’t go quite far enough.”
– Mark Demming (allmusic.com)
Steve Earle made a “state of the nation” album, and he is confused and he doesn’t come up with the answers, but he asks the important questions!
He sings about fears in Ashes to Ashes and Conspiracy Theory, the ever-growing differences between the rich and the poor in Amerika V. 6.0 (The Best We Can Do), desperation of a Mexican man who lost his job in one of the many oppressive, foreign-owned assembly plants inWhat’s A Simple Man to Do and the injustice of the American judicial system in The Truth. Earle seems not so angry, but rather sad about the state of things.
He did not make a protest album all through, he has (as always) room for some sweet country ballads on the record. I especially like his duet with Emmylou Harris, I Remember You.
Steve Earle ends the album with a message of hope, a hope that the answers can be found in peace and forgiveness.
Jerusalem is the bold work of a thinking man and the album is a thought-provoking work of art.
Live @ Palladium, Malmö, Sweden 2009/10/28. Steve Earle do John Walker’s Blues from Jerusalem for the first time on the European leg of his 2009 tour:
Steve Earle performing Jerusalem(the song) live at Factory Theatre in Sydney on 8 April 2012 (with an incredible intro):
Steve Earle – Jerusalem on Spotify:
– Hallgeir (photos of Steve Earle taken at Bergenfest 2013, Norway)