A lost nugget from the vaults is unearthed with this full recording of Johnny Cash playing at the Manhattan Center, now known as the Hammerstein Ballroom. This was 1994, which would’ve been way past The Man In Black’s peak — except for the strange circumstance that allowed him to record one of his best selling albums, American Recordings, that year. Produced by the inimitable Rick Rubin, American Recordings put Cash back into the psyche of the music fan that might’ve already relegated him to “has been” status. His 81st album was recorded in Cash’s living room, with Rubin insisting on a stripped-down sound that only allowed for his guitar to accompany him. Needless to say, American Recordings returned Cash to the prominent position where he so rightly belonged. From Aquariaum Drunkard:

“I was trying to get him to go from all these years of thinking his best stuff was behind him and just phoning in records to thinking we could make his best albums ever,” Rubin says in Hilburn’s biography. The intermixing of confidence, swagger, and vulnerability that Rubin captured on American Recordings and nearly every moment of music he and Cash created during their decade-long relationship is on full display in the above video, shot for VH1. Backed by longtime drummer W.S. Holland, Cash rolls through “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” and draws the crowd in for American Recordings‘ “Delia’s Gone” and “Drive On.” Though he had ten productive years ahead of him, Cash’s health was already failing him. But he does here what he would spend the next decade doing: pressing on.

Press play to watch the entire 1994 Manhattan Center concert in full…

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