An undiscovered trove of lyrics, letters and poems from late country icon Johnny Cash will come to life on April 6 on the album Johnny Cash: Forever Words. The collection will transform phrases left behind by the Man in Black into songs by late Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, Ruston Kelly & Kacey Musgraves, Rosanne Cash, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Kris Kristofferson & Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley and many more.
The 16-track album was compiled using what the albums' co-producer, Cash's son John Carter Cash, described as a "monstrous amassment" of material left behind by Johnny and June Carter Cash after their deaths. The handwritten letters, documents and poems were penned by Cash over the course of his life and shaped into songs over the past two years by John Carter Cash and co-producer Steve Berkowitz. Mostly recorded at The Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee, the collection is the musical companion to the 2016 best-selling book Forever Words: The Unknown Poems, a collection of unpublished writings edited by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon and curated by John Carter and Berkowitz. Among the other contributors: Jewel, Jamey Johnson, The Jayhawks, T. Bone Burnett, Robert Glasper and John Mellencamp.
According to a release announcing the project, many of the songs on the album were directly inspired by the material in the book, with others drawn from other sources of Cash's unpublished writings. "The tone of the album is established with the opening track 'Forever/I Still Miss Someone' featuring Kris Kristofferson reciting the last poem Cash ever wrote alongside guitar accompaniment from Willie Nelson, both lifelong friends of Johnny," reads a statement. "Continuing the close-to-home theme, the music then transitions to the deeply personal 'To June This Morning,' a letter Johnny wrote to his wife, June Carter Cash, now interpreted by real-life couple Ruston Kelly and Kacey Musgraves."