Johnny Cash’s “American VI: Ain’t No Grave,” the last album in the American Recordordings album series, will be released on Feb. 26, 2010, the day that would be the late great’s 78th birthday.
Produced by Rick Rubin and engineered by longtime collaborator David “Fergie” Ferguson, this compilation boasts a previously unreleased Johnny Cash song, “I Corinthians: 15:55.” For those keeping track at home, that Bible verse says, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
Appropriate — given that Cash recorded songs from this effort, as well as 2006’s “American V,” right up until the day of his death on September 12, 2003.
Rubin says that The Man in Black knew he was dying as he recorded during his last four months — those that followed the death of his wife June — but, “There was no fear,” Rubin says in a statement. “I’m not sure where the question came from, but I said, ‘Do you feel like somewhere you can find faith?’ And when he heard that word, a switch went off in his head, and he answered in a strong voice, ‘My faith is UNSHAKABLE.’ And the conversation changed after that. So he had tremendous faith, he didn’t really have fear and he already was dealing with pain; I think he had acceptance.”
Other tracks on “American VI” include covers of Sheryl Crow’s “Redemption Day,” Kris Kristofferson’s “For The Good Times,” Tom Paxton’s “Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound,” Bob Nolan’s “Cool Water,” Ed McCurdy’s “Last Night I had the Strangest Dream,”J.H. Red Hayes and Jack Rhodes’s “Satisfied Mind” and Queen Lili’uokalani’s song of farewell, “Aloha Oe.”
The Avett Brothers’ Scott and Seth can be heard on the song “Ain’t No Grave.” Guitarists Smokey Hormel, Mike Campbell, Matt Sweeney and Jonny Polonsky and keyboardist Benmont Tench round out the studio musicians on the effort.
The “American” series begain in 1994.