In the twilight of his career, Johnny Cash took to covering the tunes of contemporary artists en masse, applying his baritone croon to the works of U2, Depeche Mode, and Sheryl Crow. The most famous of these covers, by a long shot, is his tortured and confessional rendition of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt.” In light of Out Among The Stars, the posthumous Cash record released this past Tuesday, some have returned the favor—La Blogotheque has produced a short film that has Brandon Flowers (of The Killers), Father John Misty, and Local Natives cover cuts from the album and reflect on Cash’s storied legacy.
That legacy is only enhanced by Out Among The Stars, which Cash recorded in a handful of 1980s sessions with producer Bill Sherill, a pioneer of the “countrypolitan” sound that threaded pop conventions with the plaintive storytelling of the folk music tradition. The album tapes were discovered just two years ago, but Cash’s voice is in its emotive prime, and the thirteen tracks brim with a coiled energy. Flowers and Dawes belt out “I Came To Believe,” Father John Misty cooes the sublime “Baby Ride Easy”, and Local Natives take on the title track. Strangely, the differences in these artists' performance style don’t detract from the material; if anything, they reinforce Cash’s singular songwriting ability. Whether rendered in folksy lullaby or synth-laden echo, these tunes bear witness to shared experience that transcends genre. Enjoy.