Album of discarded Johnny Cash songs comes out of vault

Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:12am EDT
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By Francis Maguire

LONDON (Reuters) - Johnny Cash helped define American country music with hits such as "I Walk the Line" and "A Boy Named Sue", but in the early 1980s he recorded an album of songs his record label refused to release and is only now seeing the light of day.

"Out Among The Stars", which Cash, who died in 2003, recorded with legendary Nashville producer Billy Sherrill, will be released by Sony next week and includes duets with Cash's late wife, June Carter Cash, and Waylon Jennings.

The songs were never released in any form by Cash's label, Columbia, now owned by Sony, and were only rediscovered in 2012 when Cash's son, John Carter Cash, who has written extensively about his late parents, was cataloguing their archives.

"Originally produced by Billy Sherrill in 1984 and a couple of songs in '81, they exhibited my father and showed his creativity in a period of his life when not as many people knew about this music," Cash told Reuters on a recent trip to London.

At the time "Out Among The Stars" was recorded, country music was moving away from the sound that made Cash popular towards the 'countrypolitan' style championed by Garth Brooks.

Cash also endured a difficult personal struggle with drug addiction and being dropped by Columbia in 1986.

After he was let go by the label, "Out Among The Stars" remained in the vaults and was subsequently forgotten.

"Something that specifically worked for Johnny Cash was not what Columbia was interested in at the time, sadly. I believe they made a bad mistake and they didn't have the vision. However, you can look at it in different ways," Cash said.   Continued...

The hall of fame brass plaque honoring country music singer Johnny Cash is draped in black with red roses at the side at the County Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, September 12, 2003.