Archive for March, 2014

An amazing album was just released recently, Out Among the Stars by Johnny Cash. This was recorded in the 80s, but never released. It has the sound of a man at the top of the game with nothing to lose or gain. Yet this one is different. If this album was released, it would definitely change the idea of what we think of as the traditional Johnny Cash. Probably wouldn’t have worked in the 80s, but in the 90s or today, it would have at least one single. Most of the songs have that “I’m Johnny Cash and I’m going to sing a light-hearted bumbling melody”, but there are a few that are golden in their own ways.

“Baby Ride Easy” is one of two duets with June and reminds the audience why they are so perfect singing together. It reminds me a lot of “If I Were a Carpenter”.

“Out Among the Stars” has the sound of a typical country story song, but is different because it is about a guy so desperate to find work that he resorts to robbing places instead and ends with a silver-lining making you believe that there maybe hope and peace after all off in the distance.

The cover of Hank Snow’s hit “I’m Moving On” with Waylon Jennings saddens me that this was never released before. It is an upbeat spin on the song that provides a sense of modern feel good in a way only Cash and Jennings could deliver.

Probably my second favorite song on the album (I’ll get to my absolute favorite later), is “If I Told You Who It Was” because Cash uses brilliant comedic timing to leave you guessing who this controversial woman is. I can clearly see why this song never saw the light of day before, since his loyalty to June would be criticized, but now people know to laugh this comedic song off, especially at the end when a very familiar high-pitched “Howdy!” is played. If you grew up on the popular Opry stars of the time as I have, it is an unexpected surprise that makes the song that much more awesome.

A few songs like “After All”, “Call Your Mother”, and “I Drove Her Out of My Mind” are what I think of as typical sounding 80s Cash songs, but don’t really stand out for a particular reason.

“Tennessee” is a 70s style ode to the state in which he settled in, at his cabin. It features a children’s choir in the background and sounds like something you would hear in a television ad telling the listener to come to Tennessee because of how great it is here.

“Rock and Roll Shoes” is Cash’s ode to his younger days about the music and the lifestyle, and how he is not quite ready to hang up the shoes yet. The melody keeps the song moving right along the way Waylon would.

“Don’t You Think Its Our Time” is the other duet with June and has a short, peaceful melody led by a lap harp, which June was known to play from the days of the Carter Family. It is an easy going song that again proves how perfect their voices compliment each other and lets you know that they could sing anything like a trippy melody about picking flowers and makes you enjoy it simply because they are singing.

“I Came to Believe” is the one Christian song of the album. It explains how he accepts Christ and develops a child-like faith in God after failing multiple times when trying to make it on his own.

The final song of the album is actually a remix of a previously listed song, “She Used To Love Me A Lot”. It is almost a psychedelic/80s electric melody that is far from the traditional Cash everybody knows and loves. It is by far my favorite song because it is so different and is really captivating with how abnormal the tune is. The weird thing is that it is listed as the JC/EC version with no clarification on who EC is.

This has definitely become my favorite Johnny Cash album by far, I just wish it wasn’t released after his passing because it would have made a great Segway into the Rick Rubin produced American albums.

The track list is as follows:

1. Out Among the Stars
2. Baby Ride Easy feat. June Carter Cash
3. She Used to Love Me a Lot
4. After All
5. I’m Movin’ On feat. Waylon Jennings
6. If I Told You Who It Was
7. Call Your Mother
8. I Drove Her Out of My Mind
9. Tennessee
10. Rock and Roll Shoes
11. Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time feat. June Carter Cash
12. I Came to Believe
13. She Used to Love Me a Lot – JC/EC Version