For fans of the legendary Johnny Cash, the best news about the release of a new album later this month, is that it really is a new album. Out Among the Stars is being called the Lost Album because the recordings were recently found, languishing in the music archive of Johnny Cash.
While it is not uncommon for the estate of a famous musicians to release material that never saw the light of day, most of it would only be of interest to hard-core fans or historians: b-sides, demo tapes, or outtakes.
But the material on Out Among The Stars, being release by Legacy Records on March 25, is nothing of the sort. The tracks on Stars were made while Cash was still with Columbia Records and were all but completed tracks, which were simply never released. Soon after being recorded, Columbia Records dropped Cash and the tracks were forgotten.
According to Columbia Records, the recordings have never been released in any form. They are not demos, outtakes or alternate versions. Fans of the Man in Black have his son, John Carter Cash, to thank for the find. In a recent interview, John talked about going through the family archives, where he found the tracks.
He said that the first thing he did was ship all of the tapes to New York City and had them digitized. The collection of tapes was large because his parents never threw anything away. In the process of going through all of the material, he realized that these Johnny Cash songs were a complete, lost album.
There was still a little work to do in order to get them ready for release on Out Among The Stars so John worked with some of the musicians, like Marty Stuart who played on the original album, to fill in some missing solos and other guitar work that needed to be done.
The younger Cash thinks that the reason Columbia didn’t release the album in the 1980s was simply because they did not really have a feel for Cash and his music and did not know how to best market it. Johnny Cash’s career was not at a high point in the mid-1980s. At that time Cash was paired with a producer who was interested in bringing more of a pop music sensibility to country music, which was not a good fit for Cash.
Fans can get a taste of the album by watching the new video that goes along with the song She Used to Love Me A Lot. The video was directed by long-time Cash fan, director John Hillcoat. Hillcoat has said that the theme of the video is struggle. The song, which is mainly about a man who tries to win back a woman who used to love him, begins with Cash talking about people who are poor and dispossessed. Hillcoat has said that his video contrasts images of Wall Street with people who struggle today to convey the idea of people who love a country that no longer loves them.
The tracks on the lost album, Out Among The Stars, were originally recorded in by Cash in Nashville, Tennessee at Columbia Studios in 1981 with a host of other musicians luminaries. Lost since then in the family archives, the album is due to be released later this month.
By Dan Reyes