Audible.com has added another benefit for subscribers that I find entertaining. Added at no additional cost, I get two free downloads from a selection of “Audible Originals.” These are not free if you click in the general selection of Originals; they have varied prices. Audible presents a curated list, usually six, and I can choose two from the list that has different selections each month. One of my selections this month, February 2019 is Folsom Untold: The Strange True Story of Johnny Cash’s Greatest Album by Danny Robbins, narrated by Danny Robbins. It runs two hours and twenty-one minutes over five chapters and has a “Mature Listener’s” advisory.
This story revolves around the revival of Johnny Cash’s career that was jumpstarted by his appearance in 1968 at Folsom Prison in California. Cash had hits from as early as 1957 but his career was not advancing until his 1968 prison concert. At that concert, he played original music written by a Folsom prison inmate, Glen Sherley. Cash was so impressed by Sherley that he promised Sherley he would not forget the prisoner and would do everything he could to help a person Cash decided was a unique talent.
Cash worked for Sherley’s early release and was successful to the point that Sherley was paroled on condition that he would live in the home with Cash and wife June Carter. This audiobook focuses on the similarities of backgrounds between Johnny Cash and Glen Sherley. Both at different periods of their lives were drug addicts. Sherley spent a substantial period of his life in various prisons while this was not true of Johnny Cash. The only time Cash was in prison was when he was giving concerts. Cash did, however, spend several short periods of time in jails and county facilities for offenses usually related to drug and alcohol use.
Once Sherley was released and was living and performing with Johnny Cash and his band, the darker side of Sherley emerged. He was a “career criminal.” He had become institutionalized so in addition to a proven proclivity over several years for crime, his behavior included actions necessary for survival in prison. At times he seemed private and taciturn. When responding to any perceived threat, his response could be labeled “over the top.” This eventually led Cash to fire Sherley from Cash’s band.
Once fired, Sherley spiraled ever downward and sometimes disappeared from the life of his family, on one occasion for three years. Eventually, he would commit suicide. Johnny Cash’s life also was a story of fast living and drug addiction but in his case, there was the help of wife June Carter as she tried, with the help of religion, to bring Johnny Cash back to a more “normal” lifestyle.
This is an interesting piece of investigative reporting in which the author sought out living witnesses to comment on myths and urban legends surrounding the life and career of Johnny Cash. I gave the story four stars because I do not believe it achieved what it started out to do. I gave the performance five stars for overcoming so many of the impediments that come with interviewing live sources
And the production was free. Audible.com is worth checking for the many features it currently offers. The first month is free.