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The Late Chris Cornell Turned Johnny Cash Poem Into Song for New Cash Compilation

Buda Mendes / Scott Gries, Getty Images
Buda Mendes / Scott Gries, Getty Images

The late Chris Cornell will appear on a new album that sets the poems of Johnny Cash to music. According to Rolling Stone, the project, titled Johnny Cash Forever Words: The Music, is the creation of Cash’s son John Carter Cash, who is also producing the effort.

Late last year, John Carter Cash released a book of his father’s poems, Forever Words: The Unknown Poems, a collection of 41 poems by his father. “My father was a very prolific writer and he left behind a huge body of unpublished work,” he told Rolling Stone Country at the time.

Country star Jamey Johnson spoke about the project in an interview with the blog Kentucky Country Music last week. “John Carter has a good number of poems that Johnny wrote. I say poems because they don’t have music to them,” Johnson said. “He’s working on an album where he’s pairing up these songs with songwriters from our day to finish up these Johnny Cash songs. One of them that I know he’s most proud of and you can’t get it anymore – he’s got Chris Cornell having finished one of these songs and then recorded it. I’m excited for it to come out. I got to do a couple of them.”

Country superstar Brad Paisley was among the first to set one of Cash’s poems to song. “Gold All Over the Ground” is a track recorded for Paisley’s new album Love and War. John Carter Cash calls that session the “precursor to this project.”

Along with Cornell and Johnson, Paisley, Jewel, T-Bone Burnett, Dailey & Vincent, Kacey Musgraves and Ruston Kelly are also on the album.

The inclusion of Cornell comes at an particularly noteworthy time in light of the Soundgarden singer’s death in May. Cash famously did a well-known cover of Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage” back in the ’90s, so the crossover of genres has now come full circle.

A release date for Johnny Cash Forever Words: The Music has yet to be announced.

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