I must be the only guy I know with hundreds of songs spanning the life of just one artist. A guy who has been dead now for years. I have a collection not of albums but of label sets. Granted I’m not the greatest Johnny Cash fan, but I’ve read the books by the real fans. I have four books by or on Cash. When I saw the latest American recording (number five) I stood amazed. I said to myself that I had enough. I thought I’d heard enough of this old voice to last me my life. Of course I listen to those songs again and again. American V has remade me into a wondrous believer in song crafting once again. But American V wasn’t enough. I’d been eying this album Personal File released on Columbia/Legacy. I wanted it but wasn’t sure I really needed more Cash on voice and guitar. Upon listening through both albums back to back I have to say that these songs instill in me a fresh love for storytelling and memory. Johnny Cash is more than a voice, more than a legendary performer, more than a personality. He is a bard. He is a collector and popularizer of old tales, magical memories, melancholy feelings, and faith hard as granite. When I listen to John I find a connection with the Spirit of the ages. He had a lust for life and story-song until his dying day. That impossible vigor mesmerizes me. I hope to be infected with a little bit of that spirit. My mind was widened by it years ago but I hope to be infected with the story-telling way he embodied. I want to tell stories with my life energy. That is my prayer.