Goin’, Goin’, Gone, but not for­got­ten

All-star cast is pay­ing trib­ute to Johnny Cash on di­verse new al­bum

Ottawa Citizen - - YOU - JANE STEVEN­SON

It seems ap­pro­pri­ate to John Carter Cash that one of Chris Cor­nell’s last solo record­ings would be on a trib­ute al­bum to his fa­ther, Johnny Cash. Cor­nell, who died from hang­ing last year, recorded You Never Knew My Mind, on Johnny Cash: For­ever Words a new com­pi­la­tion co-pro­duced by Carter Cash.

The disc finds an all-star ros­ter of coun­try, rock and R&B artists record­ing vo­cals and set­ting mu­sic to The Man in Black’s words.

Specif­i­cally, the ma­te­rial is un­re­leased po­etry, lyrics and let­ters dis­cov­ered by his son af­ter Cash died in 2003.

“(Chris and I) had met orig­i­nally back in the mid ’90s back­stage at one of my fa­ther’s shows in Seat­tle,” said Carter Cash.

“And Chris came up tome and said, ‘Your fa­ther has in­flu­enced my life and my artistry more than prob­a­bly any other artist I can name.’ So that stuck with me and I knew he would want to see some­thing. And so Chris, when I reached out to him, he was very ex­cited.”

Q How would you de­scribe Cor­nell’s ap­proach to this project?

A I think he knew that if he (was not) hon­est about it, it would not work. (whis­pers) He cer­tainly was. I mean from the mo­ment that I heard that song, he sent me a demo, it was a MP3, it re­ally, re­ally just got straight to my heart, the first time I heard it. We de­vel­oped a ca­ma­raderie of sorts, a friend­ship of sorts, even through the process, and he was like a lion with a thorn in his side. He was such a sweet guy.

Q So his death a year later was a to­tal shock to you?

A Yeah, it was. The last text I got from Chris it was just days be­fore he died. (He seemed happy) on the sur­face. ‘How are you do­ing with the tour?’ He was out on the road with Soundgar­den, of course. ‘Oh, it’s great, it’s great.’ And he sort of com­pared it to be­ing back in his younger days in some way.

Q What was the gen­e­sis of Johnny’s words for Cor­nell’s song ?

A Back in 1967, You Never Knew My Mind was sort of a good­bye, for­lorn song to his first wife Vi­vian.

Q How much of your fa­ther’s writ­ings did you go through to boil it down to the 16 songs on the new al­bum?

A Out of the amassed amount of 300 some pieces there were 60 or 70 that were very strong and there were some that I be­lieved he would want to share or that I be­lieved worked per­fectly for an­other artist.

Q Why use many artists of many gen­res for this record?

A My dad was full of mu­si­cal diver­sity. Some would ar­gue he had a big hit with the first rap song with A Boy Named Sue (1969). Some might say he’s rock ’n’ roll ‘cause he started rock ’n’ roll with those guys (Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Or­bi­son) at Sun Records. Some would say, ‘Well, what’s rock ’n’ roll?” He’s not that, he’s coun­try. And I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think Dad was open to it in the first place. And the proof ’s in the pud­ding. In the way he lived his life. He recorded a Nine Inch Nail song (Hurt in 2002). And he recorded (Soundgar­den’s) Rusty Cage (in 1996).

Q Who was the most fun to pro­duce?

A (Elvis) Costello is a vi­sion­ary. And, in par­tic­u­lar, he was good friends with my dad and so WWJCD (What Would Johnny Cash Do)? I don’t know but some­times I do. And I think he would have let Elvis do it on his own. I think all but five of (the 16) tracks were done at The Cash Cabin Stu­dio (in Hen­der­son­ville, Tenn.)

Q And we ac­tu­ally get to hear your dad’s voice speak­ing on the Robert Glasper song Goin’, Goin’, Gone. Why that song ?

A Cre­atively, it was sug­gested. And so I fig­ured if he was go­ing to be on the al­bum him­self, it’d have to be him speak­ing about some­thing that was very pro­found — a pro­found mes­sage that he would want to re­late — the dark­nesses of ad­dic­tion. He would def­i­nitely speak out on that.


John Carter Cash has com­piled and co-pro­duced a trib­ute al­bum ded­i­cated to the di­verse mu­si­cal ca­reer of his late fa­ther, Johnny, seen here with his wife and mu­si­cal part­ner June Carter.

John Carter Cash

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