When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

04 March 2006

Rolling Stone: Johnny Cash's Vault Opens

In July 1973, Johnny Cash spent several days in the studio at his House of Cash offices in Hendersonville, Tennessee, recording songs and telling tales with just an acoustic guitar and his virile craggy baritone. He sang Tin Pan Alley hits, traditional folk and gospel tunes, new originals and favorite covers by the Louvin Brothers and Johnny Horton, among others. He recited poetry and reminisced about his teenage job as a water boy on a river-dredging crew and the hours he spent glued to the radio, loving and learning the very songs he sang in these sessions.

But Cash, who died in September 2003, never issued any of these intimate performances. The tapes were shelved at House of Cash, where they sat forgotten and undisturbed until 2004, when his son John Carter Cash asked Steve Berkowitz, senior vice president of A&R at Legacy Recordings, Sony BMG's reissue imprint, and producer Gregg Geller for help in cataloging the hundreds of reels stored at the Hendersonville office.
In May of this year, the two CD-set Personal File, containing a sampling of these recordings, will be issued. Here's hoping that it's just the first of many. Personally, I'd give just about anything to hear some of these audio tracks, as yet unpublished:
On one visit, Berkowitz noticed towers of unlabeled boxes wrapped in brown paper. Inside were multitrack audio masters from Cash's ABC TV series, The Johnny Cash Show, including unaired songs by guests such as Bill Monroe, Stevie Wonder and Derek and the Dominos. "It is extraordinary," says Berkowitz, who is planning future releases of the material (Sony owns the footage from the show). "You hear Louis Armstrong teaching Johnny to sing [Jimmie Rodgers'] 'Blue Yodel' and Ray Charles trying to teach the Carter Family to sing like the Raelettes."
Rolling Stone: Johnny Cash's Vault Opens

Hat tip: Rock and Rap Confidential

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