This week’s edition of #ThePlaylistProject is courtesy of my friend–and Johnny Cash enthusiast–Caro. She took time out from her internet home to diversify our musical tastes a bit and drop some knowledge about a folksy, country, rock & roll legend from Nashville. Enjoy! –lex
As anyone who tried to have a conversation with me last week quickly found out, a new Johnny Cash album was released on Tuesday and I’m having trouble focusing on anything else.
The posthumous release isn’t that out of character, as it’s his third. What sticks out about Out Among the Stars is that unlike the other two, it’s not a continuation of the American Recordings series he worked on in the last decade of his life.
Instead, it’s an album that was originally recorded in 1984 during a period of discontent between Cash and his label. They shelved the record before it was even finished and that’s where it sat for the last three decades. His son John Carter Cash recently dug it out of the archives AND THANK GOD HE DID.
Pre-80s Cash (husky, bluegrass-y) and post-90s Cash (gritty, stripped down) are very different animals and Out Among the Stars is an interesting album because it’s smack dab in the middle both chronologically and musically. It’s not exactly cohesive (which is to be expected) but there are a couple gems that I’m glad we’re not living without. “She Used to Love Me A Lot” has quickly become one of my all-time favorites.
Even if you think Johnny Cash isn’t your thing, I encourage you to give him a try. He’s one of the most prolific artists of all time (96 albums!) and his genre-spanning sound means there’s really something for everyone.
[Hey, it's lex again. So, Johnny Cash isn't "my thing." Charrise's either. But after listening to the music and to Caro gush about Johnny's relationship with his wife June, I found an appreciation for the music and Johnny Cash as an artist. Plus, he performed concerts for prisoners. It's hard to not develop a soft spot for the guy.]
I admit to being partial to his later albums, but I made an effort to include not just my favorite songs, but ones that accurately sample his varied sound. But first, let’s watch a few videos.
“Hurt” is a haunting cover of the popular Nine Inch Nails song. Recorded just a few months before he followed June in death, the video is often referred to as his epitaph and no, I’m not crying. You’re crying! And so is Trent Reznor, who admitted to tearing up when he first watched the video. “I pop the video in, and wow… [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn’t mine anymore.”
God’s Gonna Cut You Down
If there’s any doubt in your mind that Johnny Cash is an icon, all you have to do is see who turned out for this equally powerful posthumous release.
Out Among The Stars
Continuing the tradition of using other musicians as a mouthpiece for the posthumous releases, this video has Brandon Flowers, Father John Misty, and the Local Natives each picking a song from the new album. The ensuing covers are pretty interesting, but the old pickup makes me particularly nostalgic. My dad had a similar truck growing up and I remember spending many a Sunday peering over the dusty dash, us belting out “Ringo of Fire” on the way to the dump. And now that you’re just as heartbroken as I am (you’re welcome), here’s the playlist!
*If the full 20 track playlist isn’t showing down below, you can listen to the entire thing here.