“It's midnight at a liquor store in Texas/ closing time another day is done/ when a boy walked in the door and points a pistol/ he can't find a job, but Lord, he's found a gun/ he pulls it off with no trace of confrontation/ then he lets the old man run out in the street/ even though he knows they'll come with guns a blazing/ already he can feel a great relief.” - Out Among The Stars - Adam Mitchell.

When the late Johnny Cash lost his deal with Columbia in 1986 after 25 years with the label he was still in fine voice - a stark contrast to when Rick Rubin tried to resurrect his career late in the previous millennium and beyond.

So we're indebted to Cash's smart archivist son John Carter Cash for reclaiming these classic Billy Sherrill produced tunes with peers diverse as the late Waylon Jennings and late singing spouse June Carter Cash in 1981 and 1984.

Carter Cash credits his dad and mum with having such an extensive recording collection.

“They never threw anything away,” Carter Cash, now 44, says of songs he knocked into shape in his Cash Cabin Studios in the Nashville suburb Hendersonville .

“They kept everything in their lives. They had an archive that had everything in it from the original audio tapes from the Johnny Cash Show to random things like a camel saddle - a gift from the prince of Saudi Arabia .”

Cash, born at Kingsland , Arkansas , on February, 26, 1932, grew up on a cotton farm in Dyess Tennessee , where he lost elder brother Jack at 12 in a chain saw accident.

He died at 71 on September 12, 2003, but when he was finally laid to rest three days later he had a VIP ghost among mourners - Hank Williams.

Retired Ten Network news reader Mal Walden reported that Hank, who went to God at 29 on January 1, 1953, was among 1,000 celebrities at the private First Baptist Church Of Hendersonville service.

It was, of course, Hank Jr who attended the funeral but let's thank Ten's newsroom for that timely resurrection.

June Carter, who wed Cash after previous marriages to fellow singer Carl Smith and Ed Nix, pre-deceased Cash when she died at 73 at 5.04 p m on May 15, 2003.

That was then and now we're indebted to John Carter, who toured here with his dad, for this tantalizing time capsule he helped revamp in 2013.

The album has been released here and is promoted by a video for She Used to Love Me a Lot , reprised as a bonus track with a little help from the other Elvis - Costello.

The song, penned by Rhonda Fleming, Dennis Morgan and Charles Quillen, was also a hit for seven times wed former convict- country singer-actor David Allan Coe.


“If I drove a truck and I were a waitress/ and I ordered coffee and I poured you some/ then you'd stop by on your way sometimes later/ and if we arm-wrestled I'd say that you won/ I need my baby, ride easy, ride high in the saddle all day/ If your loving is good and your cooking ain't greasy/ We'll chuck the chuck wagon and we'll ride away.” - Baby Ride Easy - Richard Dobson.

John Carter Cash also deserves credit for his salient sequencing.

The album entrées with the title track - a credible crime narrative torn from Cash's back pages and delivered with panache.

It segues into his duet with June Carter on the historic Baby Ride Easy - a joyous tune from the song book of Texan Richard Dobson, now 71, who provided David Allan Coe with another gem Piece Of Wood & Steel , now available on a Raven anthology.

Sadly, as long time Cash fans will acknowledge, June Carter was a comedienne-songwriter first, with singing never her strong suit.

She performed with her sisters on early tours and was crowd warmer-up and cheer leader on Australian visits by Cash, Cowboy Jack Clement and The Highwaymen .

The definitive version of this song is by guest harmoniser Carlene Carter - daughter of June and Carl Smith - and Dave Edmunds.

It's followed by She Used To Live Me A Lot and Cash's heart wrenching version of Sandy Mason-Charles Cochran ruptured romance requiem After All .

Also highly accessible is the duet with Waylon on I'm Moving On - one of many gems penned by late Canadian Hank Snow who was managed by Colonel Tom Parker who also shared the spoils of Cash's Sun Records sidekick Elvis Presley.

Trivia buffs will recall that the good colonel made his name on the sideshow circuit with chickens dancing on a hot plate that was discreetly shielded by a blanket of sorts.

It was a skill he transferred to his singing and acting clients.

Cornpone connoisseurs will also soak up Bobby Braddock-Curly Putman comedy curio If I Told You Who It Was where the singer comes to the rescue of a curvaceous chanteuse who suffers a flat tyre en route to the Grand Ole Opry.

The damsel in distress rewards her Good Samaritan with a tawdry token of her appreciation - it's a fable so don't place your bets on Dolly Parton, especially with late Opry veteran comedienne Minnie Pearl in a vocal cameo.

At track #7 Cash finally has a chance to deliver one of his originals - the maternal paean Call Your Mother in which he advises his former lover to give his best wishes to her ma and pa and thank her for the good years of their union.

It's not necessarily about first wife Vivienne Liberto - mother of Cash's four daughters Rosanne, Cindy, Tara and Kathy.


“Yeah I'll take her on a scenic cruise/ right off of Lookout Mountain/ cause she said I never took her out when she was mine/ she'll see all seven states/ as we drive to the pearly gates/ tonight when I drive her out of my mind” - I Drove Her Out Of My Mind - Gary Gentry-Hillman Hall.

Life imitates art in strange ways in these politically correct times.

When David Heard played the mirthful murder and marital mayhem tale I Drove Her Out Of My Mind on his popular Acid Country show on 3PBS-FM in the aptly named Easey Street studios in the inner Melbourne suburb of Caringbush a hapless switchboard receptionist received a telephonic tirade from a listener of the female species.

It seems the listener took the lyrics literally and was bowled over as this burning ball went through to the keeper.

Perhaps she would have preferred Tom Pacheco song Robert & Ramona where both lovers went off a cliff after stopping for a big Mac and fries after an armed robbery.

The songwriters were Tom T Hall's long deceased brother, appropriately named Hillman Hall, and Gary Gentry - one of the writers of the David Allan Coe hit The Ride where the hitch-hiker is picked by the ghost of Hank Williams driving a shining new Cadillac.

I'm sure that Wimmera refugee Heard is far too polite to have adopted the stock answer of this former High In The Saddle host to folks of either gender who phoned 3RRR-FM with the familiar catch cry - “I would like to register a complaint.”

“Madam, we only register Dalmatians in here,” was the reply if the song did not conform to their specious specificity.

Maybe Heard could organise an Aussie Ute and pick-up tail-gate party in the sultry shadows of the old Fitzroy footy oval in Brunswick Street - short blacks and skinny lattes optional.

No old thongs - but I digress.

Cash is at his peak of positivity in the Rick Scott tune Tennessee that extols the blissful beauty of rural romance and the riches of raising 40 acres of corn in the ground and home grown potatoes, reminiscent of Guy Clark's Home Grown Tomatoes .

The cream on the gateau is the county fair with the late George Jones on the bill, a dog that doesn't bark at fireflies and all generations joining in genetic joy and amazing grace before and after dining.

The Cash Cabin Vocal Group and Summer Academy of Gallatin provide authentic Tennessee accompaniment.

Cash also fosters the Anglo-American cross fertilization by including Rock And Roll Shoes - penned by expat English writers Graham Lyle and producer Paul Kennerly, Emmylou Harris's third ex-spouse.

And John Carter honours another late great song-writer Tommy Collins by including Don't You Think It's Come Our Time - another duet by his parents.

A fitting finale is the gospel themed Cash original I Came To Believe .

The guests here on revamps include guitarists Buddy Miller, Pat McLaughlin and Marty Stuart.

Stuart, ex-singing spouse of Cindy Cash, and Sam Bush also play mandolin and John Carter Cash's wife Laura guests on fiddle.

So what is the verdict?

Well, the album soared to #1 on Billboard sales charts the week of release in late March and is still hanging in there.

That's despite being released when CDS were reportedly coated in Kryptonite.

And, yes, it sounds just like Johnny Cash should.


This may not be the last posthumous release.

Carter Cash says there are several more albums of previously unheard tunes still in the archives.

“There are a few things that are in the works right now – probably four or five albums if we wanted to release everything,” John Carter Cash says.

“There may be three or four albums worth of American Recordings stuff, but some of it may never see the light of day.”

The Man in Black released several albums on producer Rick Rubin's American Recordings label before he died including the platinum-selling American IV: The Man Comes Around in 2002.

Rubin also released several of Cash's records after his death, including Unearthed - a five-disc box set of outtakes and alternate versions of some of his previous American Recordings albums, as well as a disc of gospel songs.

And Rubin hints that there are plenty more songs that could still be released as well.

“We released the work we had been planning to release along with John Carter Cash and the idea of the Unearthed box set of outtakes was his idea,” Rubin adds.

“We will probably put out additional Unearthed material recorded since the last Unearthed box, in keeping with John's wishes.”

CLICK HERE for a previous John Carter Cash interview in the Diary on February 15, 2011.

CLICK HERE for a Johnny Cash feature in the Diary on September 23, 2003.

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