Amidst ephemera of all sorts stored in a room behind his recording studio, Johnny Cash kept hundreds of tapes. Within that trove was a set marked "Personal File," which turned out to be a pot of gold.

Amidst ephemera of all sorts stored in a room behind his recording studio, Johnny Cash kept hundreds of tapes. Within that trove was a set marked "Personal File," which turned out to be a pot of gold.

These solo recordings, made mostly in the 1970s, find the country music icon performing everything from what producer Greg Geller describes as "late-19th century parlour ballads to mid-20th century country hits ... songs inspired by recent events and experiences ... songs of faith and inspiration."

Fans will get a taste of the revelatory material with the May 23 release of "Personal File." The two-disc Columbia/Legacy set boasts 49 cuts, many of which include reflections by Cash that serve as introductions.

Among the highlights are such songs as "My Mother Was a Lady," "The Way Worn Traveler," "What Is Man," "Louisiana Man," "Saginaw, Michigan" and a rendition of the Irish traditional "Galway Bay."

The stark, conversational style found here was revisited by Cash much later in his career on the stripped down "American Recordings" series he made with producer Rick Rubin.

A few weeks before "Personal File" emerges, Columbia/Sony Wonder/Legacy will reissue the classic "The Johnny Cash Children's Album." The late artist's son, John Carter Cash, contributes new liner notes to the set, due May 9 with four tracks that did not appear on its original release.

Cash's offspring is the subject of one of the novelty album's songs, "I Got a Boy and His Name Is Cash, Cash, June Carter John." Elsewhere are such ditties as "Old Shep," "One and One Makes Two" and "Nasty Dan" (a version of which Cash performed for Oscar the Grouch on "Sesame Street" and appears on the 2003 box set "Songs of the Street: 35 Years of Music").