Black Music Matters Festival

Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson

VH1 Storytellers – 1998 (American/Sony)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

CDs by Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson

Johnny Cash recently slammed mainstream country radio for overlooking his Grammy-winning album "Unchained" with a controversial ad in Billboard. It's a safe bet that this brilliant collaboration with Willie Nelson will be greeted with a similar lack of support.

Originally conceived as part of a concert series on the cable music network, the album features Cash and Nelson in an intimate setting with nothing but two guitars and an impressive song list. Among the highlights are a couple of relatively obscure Cash songs - "Worried Man," inspired by a meeting with an unfortunate soul on the streets of Jamaica, and "Flesh and Blood," a moving tribute to June. Nelson shines on "Crazy" (which he tells us was originally titled "Stupid") and "Night Life."

Between songs, we are entertained by banter between the two legends and informed about the origins of most songs with Cash more expansive. Perhaps instead of criticizing the stations that do not play them, Cash and Nelson would better serve themselves and their fans by showing more concern for their supporters than their detractors.