Released this past Tuesday, Out Among The Stars is an album featuring music recorded by country music legend Johnny Cash in the early 1980’s. So why is it only seeing the light of day now, almost 30 years later?
John Carter Cash, the only son of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, spoke with The MusicNerd Chronicles last month to shed some light on the matter:
You discovered the 12 songs that make up Out Among The Stars as you were cataloging your father’s archives. Why do you think that the songs never got released?
Behind closed doors, I think that my father’s record label at the time felt as though these songs didn’t fit into what they were doing and so the recordings were shelved. There was some wonderful music being made in Nashville at the time but there was a limited vision regarding my father and the music that he was making. After my father got put into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1980, there weren’t going to be any more hits as far as the industry was concerned.
The complete lack of respect for your father and the impact that he had upon country music just blows my mind.
The only thing I can say is that speaking to the guys at Sony Legacy now, we all agree that their predecessors made some poor decisions. What a horrible thing to do to someone whose music and life had such great standing in the world’s heart. Ironically, it was 12 years later that my father would win a Grammy Award for American Recordings, the first album he made with Rick Rubin and then two years later, Unchained won the Grammy Award for Best Country Album. I think it was a wake-up call to Nashville. The industry saw just how much the fans loved my father and his music.
One of the songs that immediately stood out to me on Out Among The Stars was Baby Ride Easy. That is a classic Johnny/June duet if there ever was one. Hearing the love and chemistry between them gave me goose bumps.
That song really grabbed me too. Hearing it reminded me of the good times in my parent’s life. They were very much in love and had a vision that the song could be a big hit for them. Record companies weren’t interested though because they assumed that the public wouldn’t be interested.
Is there more unreleased material from your father that will eventually be released?
We want to maintain the integrity behind the music so anything that is released has to be done at the right time and also has to say something unique. There is definitely more material however, including stuff from my father’s time at Columbia Records as well as music that he recorded with Rick Rubin.
An edited version of this interview was published in the March 27, 2014 edition of Here Magazine