There’s something irresistable about an old, wise rebel singing songs of despair and melancholy. Johnny Cash has carved out this niche for over 45 years. He’s walked the line and gone down in a burning ring of fire. He’s surpassed illness and critics. ˝American III: Solitary Man˝ follows ˝American Recordings˝ (1994) and ˝Unchained˝ (1996) as Cash’s third cd produced by Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys et al.) Cash shines on remakes like Tom Petty’s ˝I Won’t Back Down˝, Neil Diamond’s ˝Solitary Man˝, U2’s ˝One˝, Nick Cave’s ˝The Mercy Seat˝. When Cash is dark, he’s very dark like the lyrics in ˝I See A Darkness˝. He can turn on a dime and produce sad, painful comedy like ˝Nobody˝ and ˝Country Trash˝. He never loses the heart and soul of country/folk playing and singing. At 68, Cash is the oldest, coolest artist in my collection, and I look forward to each of his recordings because it seems like he always has some new way of seeing life and relationships. Some artists have nothing to say or make a few cds and then have nothing to say, but Johnny Cash continues to show the wisdom of age and experience and its value in our lives. I don’t like country music much, but I sure do dig Johnny Cash. ˝American III: Solitary Man˝ stands on its own.