hmv.com presents… The Best Soundtracks of All Time: Walk The Line
As part our 'Decades' series, every day we'll be picking the best soundtrack, one for every year, starting with 1950 right through to the present day. Today we're up to 2005 and we're recommending the soundtrack to Walk The Line…
The Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line.
So what’s the film about?
The film is a rather exhaustive biopic of Johnny Cash, with Joaquin Phoenix playing the Man In Black, and Reece Witherspoon as his longstanding wife June Carter Cash.
Starting out with his famous Folsom State Prison show in 1968, the film flashes back to his childhood and the traumatic death of his older brother. We follow him into the army, and then his attempts to establish himself as a recording artist.
The film covers up to the early 70s, from the height of his fame to his troubles with drugs, his relationship with June Carter Cash, and his landmark prison concerts.
Is this a score or a soundtrack?
It’s a soundtrack of the songs performed in the film.
So who’s on it? Anyone I might know?
Instead of using original recordings, director James Mangold had Joaquin Phoenix and Reece Witherspoon record all the songs in character as Cash and Carter. The soundtrack album collects their new version of the songs, along with appearances by various country artist who other portrayed legendary musicians in Walk the Line, including Waylon Malloy Payne as Jerry Lee Lewis and Shooter Jennings as his dad Waylon.
So which songs are on it? Did any of them become hits?
Pretty much every big song Johnny Cash hit is here, including “I Walk The Line’, ‘Get Rhythm’, ‘Ring Of Fire’ and ‘Jackson’. Lesser known songs include a cover Bob Dylan’s ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’ and Tyler Hilton doing early Elvis track ‘Milk Cow Blues’.
What’s the best moment?
Phoenix’s intense version of one of Cash’s greatest ever songs, ‘Folsom Prison Blues’. Even just listening to the audio, you get a sense of how powerful his performance in the film is, bringing real passion and fire to lines about shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die.
Has it stood the test of time?
These recording are never going to replace the originals, but the production and arrangement (by country legend T-Bone Burnett) is great and the performances by Phoenix and Witherspoon are astounding.