Earlier this month it was revealed that John Carter Cash, the son of Johnny
and June Carter Cash, was co-producing and planning on releasing a new album titled Johnny Cash: Forever Words
. A collaborative effort, the album is set to feature performances of a wealth of previously unheard songs, poems, and lyrics from the late, prolific Johnny Cash. Today, we have a taste of what's to come courtesy of a moving cover by Chris Cornell
Recorded roughly a year before his death, the song "You Never Knew My Mind" is an interpretation by Cornell of a poem that Cash had written in 1967. While discussing the track and the album today, John Carter Cash shed some light on its genesis, and on working with Cornell.
"Through the years there were things that he wrote that he set aside. There were songs that he had lyrics for, maybe he had music maybe didn't that that he never recorded… He wrote 'You Never Knew My Mind' in 1967. I assume and I'm fairly certain it was written for his first wife, Vivian. That was the year that their divorce was legal. It was also the year where his love for my mother flourished. So 'You Never Knew My Mind' was not something that he would have released at that time because my mother was standing beside him… There were actually two pieces. There was 'You Never Knew My Mind' and 'I Never Knew Your Mind,' they were they were basically the same lyric that was written from two different standpoints. And Chris took the two pieces and put them together in this one."
Additionally, the new song comes with a behind-the-scenes video which finds Cornell at the Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee.
As for the song itself, it's a unique creation unlike any other, and an extraordinary performance by Cornell. It's a collaboration spanning several decades, taking a rough idea that Cash created and then left unused and bringing it to life via Cornell's interpretation. Even disregarding Cornell's tragic death, the performance is haunting and beautiful, simultaneously melancholic and rousing. The nature of the poem gave Cornell great artistic freedom in covering it, and even without expectation Cornell goes above and beyond what one could ask of him.
Johnny Cash: Forever Words
is out April 6.