10 ridiculously underrated songs by Johnny Cash

These songs should be in heavy rotation on your playlist.

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“MERCY SEAT” (2000)

35 years earlier, Johnny had recorded the above-mentioned “25 Minutes to Go.” He returned to the theme of a man on death row with this harrowing Nick Cave cover. The humor and the exaggerated bluster of the Shel Silverstein song are nowhere to be found on this one.

There’s a righteous anger that drenches the entire production, and there is also an acceptance of a rather ugly mortality. Johnny delivers it with the intensity of a plain-spoken preacher and achieves something truly remarkable. It is a song about peace and forgiveness that nonetheless positively boils in its anger at the world.

Johnny Cash died three years after the release of “Mercy Seat,” but there has been almost too much new music released after his death to count. This music is usually referred to as “rarities” or “undiscovered.” The tracks may be alternative versions of old songs or brand-new recordings not heard before.

Some of them are excellent, like Johnny’s sweet cover of Rodney Crowell’s “Wildwood in the Pines,” or his angry version of Steve Earle’s “Devil’s Right Hand.” But I think I’ll stop there. Once you start listing underrated Johnny Cash songs, there’s a pretty strong desire to just keep going and going and going.

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