John Prine introduces "Ballad of a Teenage Queen" by recollecting the first time he heard it: it was the summer of '57 or so and he was in his cousin's barn in Indiana. Fast-forward almost fifty years and you might hear a story like, "I didn't really know who Johnny Cash until he did that Nine Inch Nails song."
From pioneering that train-a-comin rhythm to his later work with Rick Rubin, Cash was equally adept in country, gospel, blues, folk, rockabilly, and rock and roll. He is truly a bridge between America's root music and today's younger generations (thanks, in part, to movies like "Walk the Line"). With covers of original Cash songs, folk tunes of which he recorded popular versions, a few tracks from his fellow country outlaws, and, of course, NIN's "Hurt," this playlist is a hodgepodge of great American music. The Man in Black is deservedly a true icon.