Johnny Cash Wrote a Novel, and Other Outtakes From Our Interview With His Son
In this week's music feature, we spoke with John Carter Cash about Out Among The Stars, the record he found stashed away in the Cash family vault long after his father Johnny had laid its songs to tape. Cash went into detail about the circumstances surrounding Out Among The Stars--namely, his father's returning dependency on amphetamines and a resulting trip to the Betty Ford Clinic in the middle of the record's creation--and how he came to find the record Columbia shelved nearly 30 years after it was originally conceived.
Below are a selection of Cash's stories that didn't make it to print regarding Out Among The Stars and its new-found place in the Cash canon.
On the importance of context and the Cash standard: "Of course, not everything is worthy of being released, but we tried to be true. We asked ourselves, 'Is this something that JR would've wanted if he was sitting in the room? Is this something he would've wanted people to hear?' Through this process, we believe that we've put out stuff that is worthy of release. This record stood alone. It's something that Billy Sherrill did in the early 1980s, in a period in my dad's creative world when Columbia was losing interest in him. It wasn't long after these recordings were done in '84 that Columbia dropped Johnny Cash. When we heard these, there was some of it that was unfinished, and we knew that if we were going to finish it we were going to do it right, so hopefully we did that. We felt like it was something that was a work of art. It was something beautiful, you know? It was worthy of sharing with the world. Dad would've loved to share it. We went about making that happen. I don't know. I think it's going to touch people. I think people will get insight as to who my dad was during this period in his life. Not as many people know who Johnny Cash was in the early 1980s. For the main reason, through the early 1980s, he had a relapse into drug addiction. He was on pain pills. In 1983, he went through the Betty Ford Center. When he came out of there, he had a true spiritual renaissance period in his life."
On his personal connection to the record and Out Among The Stars as a "blessing": "I encounter Johnny Cash and June Carter every day. It's part of my life. I try to embrace that. I try to take that in as a part of my life, not my whole life. I try to appreciate it and know that the fact is that I share this love for these artists, these people that I knew in various standings, in different ways. My mother and father have gone on. I can't call them on the phone and see what they're doing. I can't ask them for advice. In the process of listening to these recordings, I'm able to have that closeness with my dad again. I'm able to feel like I'm standing next to him at 14-years-old again. It's a blessing, and if I take it as anything less than that, I'm not being honest."