Tributes to Johnny Cash and Bruce Springsteen are set to be released on August 22 and September 19 respectively.
This year marks 50 years since the release of Johnny Cash’s album Bitter Tears: Ballads Of The American Indian, a concept album focusing on the mistreatment and marginalization of the Native American people throughout the history of the United States. The album’s eight songs included ‘The Ballad of Ira Hayes,’ which became a #3 hit single for Cash on the Billboard country chart.
A collective of Americana artists has come together to re-imagine and update these songs. Look Again To The Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited was produced by Joe Henry (Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville), and features Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Bill Miller, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, and Norman and Nancy Blake, as well as relative newcomers the Milk Carton Kids and Rhiannon Giddens.
“Prior to Bitter Tears, the conversation about Native American rights had not really been had,” says Henry, “and at a very significant moment in his trajectory, Johnny Cash was willing to draw a line and insist that this be considered a human rights issue, alongside the civil rights issue that was coming to fruition in 1964. But he also felt that the record had never been heard, so there’s a real sense that we’re being asked to carry it forward.”
The album was recorded in three sessions: the first two in Los Angeles and Nashville and, lastly, one at the Cash Cabin, in Cash’s hometown of Hendersonville, Tennessee. Providing the instrumental backing for most of the album are Greg Leisz (steel guitar, guitars), Keefus Ciancia (keyboards), Patrick Warren (keyboards for the L.A. sessions), Jay Bellerose (drums) and Dave Piltch (bass).
LOOK AGAIN TO THE WIND: JOHNNY CASH’S BITTER TEARS REVISITED TRACK LIST:
1. As Long as the Grass Shall Grow – feat. Gillian Welch & David Rawlings
2. Apache Tears – feat. Emmylou Harris w/The Milk Carton Kids
3. Custer – feat. Steve Earle w/The Milk Carton Kids
4. The Talking Leaves – feat. Nancy Blake w/ Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings
5. The Ballad of Ira Hayes – feat. Kris Kristofferson w/ Gillian Welch & David Rawlings
6. Drums – feat. Norman Blake w/ Nancy Blake, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings
7. Apache Tears (Reprise) – feat. Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings
8. White Girl – feat. The Milk Carton Kids
9. The Vanishing Race – feat. Rhiannon Giddens
10. As Long as the Grass Shall Grow (Reprise) – feat. Nancy Blake, Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings
11. Look Again to The Wind – feat. Bill Miller
This year also marks the 30th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen’s Born In The U.S.A. Although it would become his biggest selling album with seven top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars says “any of those songs could be played with acoustic guitar alone and still be great.” Taking this idea as its premise, Dead Man’s Town: A Tribute to Born In The U.S.A strips the albums twelve indelible originals to the core, with contributions from Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires (‘Born In The USA’), Low, Nicole Atkins, Justin Townes Earle, Blitzen Trapper, Joe Pug, Trampled By Turtles and more.
Isbell says of his cover: “‘Born In The U.S.A’ is one of my favourites because so many people have seemingly misunderstood the lyrical content and the song’s overall tone. When you listen to the demo, the dark, minor key arrangement makes it clear that this is not strictly a song of celebration. We wanted to stay true to that version.” Amanda Shires adds, “I love that the song paints a picture of struggle in the face of the American dream, and the irony in the chorus is delivered with such force that it neatly transcends irony altogether.”
Dead Man’s Town: A Tribute to Born In The U.S.A set for release September 19 through Lightning Rod Records.
1. Born In The U.S.A. – Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires
2. Cover Me – The Apache Relay
3. Darlington Country – Quaker City Nighthawks
4. Working On The Highway – Blitzen Trapper
5. Downbound Train – Joe Pug
6. I’m On Fire – Low
7. No Surrender – Holly Williams
8. Bobby Jean – Ryan Culwell
9. I’m Goin’ Down – Trampled By Turtles
10. Glory Days – Justin Townes Earle
11. Dancing In The Dark – Nicole Atkins
12. My Hometown – North Mississippi Allstars