Johnny Cash's last album, American VI, to be released next month
The final installment of Johnny Cash's American Recordings series is to be released on what would have been his 78th birthday next month.
Lost Highway Records has announced that American VI: Ain't No Grave will come out on February 28. It will contain a new Cash song, "I Corinthians: 15:55", as well as a series of covers including Kris Kristofferson's "For the Good Times", Tom Paxton's "Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound" and the regularly covered "Satisfied Mind", written by J.H. Red Hayes and and Jack Rhodes.
Cash began his American Recordings in 1994, and all six albums have been produced by Rick Rubin. Recording at his home studio in Henderson, Tennessee, he continued recording up until his death on September 12, 2003. Most of the songs on the new album were recorded in May 2003, and during the recording Cash lost his wife, June Carter.
"Johnny said that recording was his main reason for being alive. I think it was the only thing that kept him going," said Rubin.
Cash knew that he was getting frailer, so he immediately began work on American V and VI after finishing American IV in 2002. Rubin arranged for a sound engineer and guitar players to be always on call so that recording could take place any time that Cash felt strong enough.
"Every morning, when he’d wake up, he would call the engineer and tell him if he was physically up to working that day," Rubin said.
Other songs on American VI include Sheryl Crow's "Redemption Day"; Bob Nolan's "Cool Water"; peace anthem "Last Night I had the Strangest Dream" by Ed McCurdy; and Hawaiian song of farewell "Aloha Oe" by Queen Lili'uokalani.
The album was recorded by Cash's long-time engineer, David "Fergie" Ferguson. Guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench, who have played on five of the six American albums, are joined by guitarists Matt Sweeney and Jonny Polonsky, as well as Smokey Hormel. The Avett Brothers Scott and Seth make cameo appearances on the title track "Ain't No Grave."