Album: Ragged Old Flag

"Ragged Old Flag" is the 47th studio album launched by American country music legend Johnny Cash. Taped and produced at the House of Cash in Hendersonville, Tennessee, it was launched on June 6, 1974, through Columbia Records. The album includes 10 tracks and features a mix of patriotic, historical, and individual tunes that showcase Cash's enthusiasm, devotion, and respect for the United States.

Background and Production
After the release of 1973's "Any Old Wind That Blows", Johnny Cash took a quick hiatus from tape-recording due to personal and health issue. Throughout this time, Cash reportedly had a growing issue for the state of the nation, sustained by historical events such as the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal. It was during this duration that the concept of creating an album highlighting the country's history, patriotism, and resilience took shape.

Money produced the album with his long time collaborator, Larry Butler. The production group also consisted of artists from Cash's regular backing band, The Tennessee Three, together with additional musicians such as steel guitar player Pete Wade and fiddler Tommy Jackson.

Tracklist and Song Themes
"Ragged Old Flag" includes 10 tracks, each with a specific style and message. The album opens with the title track, "Ragged Old Flag", a spoken-word piece telling the history of the United States from the point of view of a flag. The track is accompanied by a minimal musical arrangement, including a soft fiddle, piano, and guitar, highlighting the storytelling aspect of the track.

"Don't Go Near the Water" is a cautionary tale about commercial contamination and its harmful impacts on the environment. It functions as a call to action, urging listeners to take much better care of the planet.

"All I Do is Drive"is a tune that offers a peek into the life of truck drivers and the loneliness and uniformity they experience while on the road. This track showcases Cash's ability to tell stories about the working class and the challenges they face.

Other tracks on the album concentrate on popular historic occasions or figures. "The Battle of Nashville" states the Civil War fight that happened in Cash's house state of Tennessee, while "The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore" informs the story of the railway system's influence on villages and the people who lived in them.

The album also features a couple of personal tunes, such as "Southern Comfort", which explores the styles of alcohol addiction and dependency-- a topic that was close to Cash's heart due to his own struggles with dependency.

Reception and Legacy
"Ragged Old Flag" was consulted with favorable reviews for its patriotic theme and individual storytelling, however it didn't have much business success. The title track was the most successful single, reaching the 31st position on the Billboard Country Singles chart. The album itself peaked at number 16 on the Billboard Country Albums chart.

In spite of the mild business success of the album at the time, "Ragged Old Flag" holds an unique place in the heart of Johnny Cash fans and is considered a classic by many. The album stays relevant today, showcasing Cash's ability to inform stories through music and paint a vibrant image of American history, life, and worths.

In conclusion, "Ragged Old Flag" is a deeply personal and patriotic album, reflecting Johnny Cash's love and concern for his nation. The combination of historical context, storytelling, and personal themes highlights Cash's flexibility and workmanship as an artist and works as a reminder of his distinct and enduring location in American music history.
Ragged Old Flag Cover

Artist: Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash Johnny Cash, the iconic Man in Black, through his biography, featuring quotes, hits like Ring of Fire, and his love story with June Carter.
More about Johnny Cash

Other Albums by Johnny Cash