American III: Solitary Man

American III: Solitary Man
Studio album by
Released October 17, 2000
Recorded 2000
Studio Cash Cabin Studio (Hendersonville, Tennessee), Akadémie Mathématique of Philosophical Sound Research (Los Angeles, California)
Length 42:15
Label American
Johnny Cash chronology
Love, God and Murder
American III: Solitary Man
Return to the Promised Land
American series chronology
American III: Solitary Man
American IV: The Man Comes Around

American III: Solitary Man is a studio album by Johnny Cash. It was released on October 17, 2000, by American Recordings. It is the third album in Cash's American series.


Between American II: Unchained and American III: Solitary Man, Cash's health declined due to various ailments, and he was even hospitalized for pneumonia, and the illness forced him to curtail his touring. This album contained Cash's response to his illness, typified by a version of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down", as well as a version of U2's "One". Changes to Cash's voice due to his health problems are noticeable on most tracks when compared to his most recent preceding albums. Graeme Thomson has characterized "Solitary Man" as an act of emotional preservation.[1]

Previous recordings

Three songs featured on the album had previously been recorded by Cash.

  • "Field of Diamonds" was previously recorded by Cash with Waylon Jennings for their 1986 album Heroes.
  • "Country Trash" was previously recorded by Cash for his 1973 album Any Old Wind That Blows.
  • "I'm Leavin' Now" was previously recorded by Cash for his 1985 album Rainbow.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[2]
Robert Christgau (2-star Honorable Mention)(2-star Honorable Mention)[3]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[4]
Pitchfork (8.6/10)[5]

American III: Solitary Man received mostly positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 80, which indicates "generally favorable reviews", based on 15 reviews.[6] In a positive review for Entertainment Weekly, David Browne gave the album a Grade A rating, saying, "Though the Man in Black has rarely sounded blacker, producer Rick Rubin frames that deep sea voice with harmonies and churchly organs, making for a dark angel beauty of an album that's austere but welcoming." A review from Sonicnet praised Cash's ability to interpret songs and make them his own, saying, "When a tune falls into the jurisdiction of the venerable country-folk troubadour, the accumulated details of any previous readings or associations are stripped away, and its core brilliantly revealed." A review published by Billboard said the album "may lack the immediate impact of its predecessors but is no less a masterpiece." Splendid said that "the covers on American III will attract the majority of listener attention; Cash's own material steals the show."

Rolling Stone gave a mixed review, saying that "the onus here lies on the production...Rick Rubin's work is too timid; mostly, the shy combos of guitar, fiddle and accordion, or Benmont Tench's subliminal contributions on keyboards, make up the kind of severe meal that one is forced to think of as tasteful." In a mixed review, the A.V. Club said, "Like Neil Young's Silver And Gold, it feels like a thematically empty, knockabout place-holder. American Recordings, one of Cash's towering classics, was all devotion and doubt, a brilliant, raw-boned meditation on redemption and death. A loose, flat set of odds and ends, Solitary Man is merely a minor but endearing record from a man who seems to know he's given more than enough." The Spin Cycle called the album "mixed, leaning at times to inadvertent novelty."

Commercial performance

The album peaked at No. 11 on the US Billboard Top Country Albums chart and No. 88 on the US Billboard 200.

Track listing


  • Johnny Cash – vocals, guitar
  • Martyn Atkins – photography
  • Norman Blake – guitar
  • Billy Bowers – digital editing
  • Mike Campbell – guitar
  • John Carter Cash – associate producer
  • June Carter Cash – vocals (9)
  • Laura Cash – fiddle
  • Lindsay Chase – production coordinator
  • Danny Clinch – photography
  • David Coleman – art direction
  • Sheryl Crow – vocals (9), accordion (12, 14)
  • Richard Dodd – additional engineering
  • David Ferguson – engineer, mixing
  • Merle Haggard – guitar, vocals (13)
  • Will Oldham – vocals (6)
  • Larry Perkins – guitar
  • Tom Petty – vocals, organ (1), vocals (2)
  • Rick Rubin – producer
  • D. Sardy – additional engineering
  • David Schiffman – additional engineering, mixing (9)
  • Eddie Schreyer – mastering
  • Randy Scruggs – guitar
  • Marty Stuart – guitar
  • Benmont Tench – piano, organ, harmonium
  • Chuck Turner – digital editing



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[10] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[12] N/A 186,000[11]

^shipments figures based on certification alone


Year Nominee / work Award Result
2001 "Solitary Man" Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance Won


  1. ^ Thomson, G. (2011). The Resurrection of Johnny Cash: Hurt, Redemption, and American Recordings. Jawbone Press, pp. 218-219.
  2. ^ Johnson, Zac. "American III: Solitary Man – Johnny Cash". AllMusic. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
  3. ^ "Robert Christgau: CG: johnny cash". Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 9, 2010. Retrieved August 30, 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^
  6. ^ "American III: Solitary Man by Johnny Cash". Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  7. ^ "Johnny Cash Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  8. ^ "Johnny Cash Chart History (Top Country Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  9. ^ "Top Country Albums – Year-End 2001". Billboard. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  10. ^ "British album certifications – Johnny Cash – Solitary man". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Solitary man in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  11. ^ "8ask". Billboard. February 19, 2003. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  12. ^ "American album certifications – Johnyn Cash – Solitary man". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.