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Johnny Cash

Merry moments from the Man in Black

Johnny Cash Johnny Cash (Thurston Moore Collection )
By Globe Staff
November 26, 2008
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The gift of Cash - Johnny, that is - just keeps on giving this holiday season, with various new releases that prove the Man in Black is busier than ever from the sweet hereafter.

For an old-fashioned country Christmas, "The Johnny Cash Christmas Specials 1976-1979" collects Cash's finer (and often hokey) holiday moments on four DVDs. The archival series began last year with the release of the 1976 and '77 shows, but the latest installments, which are also sold separately, are much more entertaining with guest cameos from Kris Kristofferson, Anne Murray, and Andy Kaufman. (Word to the wise: Skip the 1976 special because, really, no one should be subjected to Tony Orlando, Roy Clark, and Cash singing "Oh! Susanna." It will surely kill the spirit of the season.)

Taking a more scholarly approach, "Johnny Cash's America" includes a 90-minute documentary about Cash's life and an accompanying soundtrack. Through interviews with Bob Dylan, Al Gore, and, um, Snoop Dogg, among others, the filmmakers paint a broad and compelling portrait of how Cash came to embody American identity.

A new deluxe edition of "At Folsom Prison" includes all of Cash's fabled 1968 concert, along with an additional CD of the second, previously unissued performance he gave that night. The DVD documents how the album came about and why it marked a pivotal shift in Cash's career.

But wait! There's more. The new CD/DVD combo "Johnny Cash: Chapter & Verse" includes Cash's Bible narrations and a disc of his gospel songs. And for the more secular, "Johnny Cash Remixed" is coming to a dance floor near you in January.

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