Posthumous Johnny Cash Album

to be released in June                

Norman Warwick learns from Paste.

At noon on 23rd April 2024 Paste informed the world that a new album, Songwriter by Johnny Cash, will be posthumously released in June of this year.

The information, released on line stated that

This morning, a posthumous album of previously unreleased material from Johnny Cash has been given a release date. Songwriter is set to arrive June 28 via Mercury Nashville/UMe, and it will feature contributions from players like Dan Auerbach, Vince Gill, Waylon Jennings, Harry Stinson, Sam Bacco, Ana Cristina Cash and more.

The demos of the songs were recorded in 1993, before Cash signed with American and began working with Rick Rubin, and the Songwriter project was catalyzed by the efforts of Johnny and June Carter Cash’s son, John Carter Cash, and co-producer David Ferguson. Cash’s former collaborators Marty Stuart, Dave Roe and Pete Abbott were asked to be a part of the project and help flesh out the music.

“Nobody plays Cash better than Marty Stuart, and Dave Roe, of course, played with Dad for many years,” John Carter Cash said in a statement. “The musicians that came in were just tracking with Dad, you know, recording with Dad, just as, in the case of Marty and Dave, they had many times before, so they knew his energies, his movements, and they let him be the guide. It was just playing with Johnny once again, and that’s what it was. That was the energy of the creation.”

It certainly sounds like a vibrant release to look forward to and even just reading this article reminded me that I first heard of Johnny Cash when I went away on holiday to Scotland with my parents and my brother. Not having booked anywhere to stay we had driven from Manchester to Perth where we stayed for a night at a B & B and enjoyed an evening stroll around the area. I can remember how mysterious the Glencoe area seemed the following day as we drove north, still with no idea of where we might end up looking for a stable for the night. We called in at the very modest shop called Well O´ The Seven Heads store, and the couple behind the counter gave us an address that we would find just around the corner. The hosts were Peter, their son, s forest ranger in the area and his young wife Cathy.

She was my first crush I was maybe thirteen at the time and in my mind I enjoyed a passionate holiday romance but, in truth, although she was actually five years older than I, we became good friends and in the tiny crofter´s cottage where my family and I stayed for ten nights, Cathy and I would chat away about books and music and she would always drop in the name of Johnny Cash, an artist I had never heard of at the time. I hadn´t even heard much about the country music genre he represented.

At home with our parents  my brother Graham and I had been raised on Frank Sinatra, Doris Day and Matt Monroe. The closest we got to the charts were when dad would buy a new Kathy Kirby single (Secret Love) or some Engelbert Humperdink stuff that had the younger teenager I then was screaming Please Release Me, Let Me Go !!

Until his later years (and mine) I grew up somehow thinking that Johnny Cash was a great performer who was allowed or maybe encouraged, or even commanded, by management to record stuff that sounded to me very tame compared to the ´new´ material I discovered after Cathy´s introduction to Cash. It seemed to me that John Stewart, Guy Clark and, of course, Townes were more on the money.

Until the sadness and courage of his final years became so widely known to us all, I didn´t pay too  much attention to Cash and his work. I was, though, a huge fan of his daughter Roseanne who would later enjoy a couple of number one country singles in the USA with John Stewart songs, Runaway Train and To Dance With The Tiger.

It was only when Johnny Cash went into his final recording phase with producer Rick Ruben that I realised the whole world was suddenly talking about these albums. Even then it took my adult son, living in South Korea, to call me and tell me to get my head out of my a**e and give them a listen.

It was only then that I realised what people like Cathy had perhaps recognised a generation earlier. Like everyone else I could hear in these works by Cash, who was at the time slowly heading inexorably heading to the end of a terminal cancer, his fearlessness and his frailty, his diagnosis and his dignity, and his acceptance and his anger.

His lyrics on his hand-made numbers were not so much difficult as declarative: Declaring that death is inevitable but that we can all be at peace as we go.

I look forward to this new album and will bring our readers a p/review from Sidetracks And Detours as soon we can.. 

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