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Look Again To The Wind: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited - A Special Release Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Cash's Landmark Album Available August 19

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Posted: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 12:16 pm

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Look Again To The Wind: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited - A

Special Release Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Cash's Landmark

Album Available August 19

NEW YORK, July 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Of all the dozens of albums

released by Johnny Cash during his nearly half-century career, 1964's

Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian was among the closest to

the artist's heart. A concept album focusing on the mistreatment and

marginalization of the Native American people throughout the history

of the United States, its eight songs-among them "The Ballad of Ira

Hayes," a #3 hit single for Cash on the Billboard country chart-spoke

in frank and poetic language of the hardships and intolerance they

endured.

Now, 50 years after it was recorded, a collective of top Americana

artists has come together to reimagine and update these songs that

meant so much to Cash, who died in 2003. Look Again To The Wind:

Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited (Sony Music Masterworks, August

19), produced by Joe Henry (Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville), features

American music giants Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle,

Bill Miller, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, and Norman and Nancy

Blake, as well as up-and-comers the Milk Carton Kids and Rhiannon

Giddens, interpreting the music of Bitter Tears for a new generation.

As his project was for Cash, the new collection is a labor of love

with a strong sense of purpose fueling its creation.

"Prior to Bitter Tears, the conversation about Native American rights

had not really been had," says Henry, "and at a very significant

moment in his trajectory, Johnny Cash was willing to draw a line and

insist that this be considered a human rights issue, alongside the

civil rights issue that was coming to fruition in 1964. But he also

felt that the record had never been heard, so there's a real sense

that we're being asked to carry it forward."

Bitter Tears, widely acknowledged for decades as one of Cash's

greatest artistic achievements, did not realize its stature as a

landmark recording easily and quickly. At the time that Cash proposed

the album, he was met with a great deal of resistance from his record

label.  They felt that a song cycle revolving around the Native

American struggle as perpetrated by the white man took him too far

afield of the country mainstream and Cash's core audience. Cash still

released the album and although it did not perform as well as he had

hoped, he remained extremely proud of the album throughout his life.

Ironically, at the same time that his own label was balking because it

felt he would alienate the country audience with his Native American

tales, Cash was finding a new set of admirers among the burgeoning

folk music crowd that had recently made stars of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez

and Peter, Paul and Mary. Cash's debut performance of "Ira Hayes" at

the 1964 Newport Folk Festival had earned him rave reviews.  His

appeal was undeniably expanding beyond the country audience, and for

those who did connect with Bitter Tears, among them a 17-year-old

aspiring singer-songwriter named Emmylou Harris, its music was

revelatory and important. "The record was a seminal work for her as a

teenager," says Henry. "She bought the album brand new and realized at

that moment that Johnny Cash was a folk singer, not a country singer,

and was involving himself politically and socially in a way that she

had identified with the great folk singers at that moment."

Henry's awareness of Harris' affection for Bitter Tears led him to

invite her to contribute to Look Again To The Wind: Johnny Cash's

Bitter Tears Revisited. Following the epic, nine-minute album-opener

"As Long as the Grass Shall Grow," written by Peter La Farge-a folk

singer-songwriter with Native American bloodlines who Cash had

befriended-and sung here by Welch and Rawlings, Harris takes the lead

vocal on the Cash-penned "Apache Tears," which also features sweet,

close harmonies by the Milk Carton Kids, the duo comprising Kenneth

Pattengale and Joey Ryan. For Henry, carefully matching artist to song

was integral to the integrity of Look Again To The Wind. For some of

the tracks, that process required a great deal of consideration. But

when it came to deciding who would interpret "The Ballad of Ira

Hayes," Henry quickly zeroed in on Kristofferson.

Another of five songs on the original album written by La Farge, "The

Ballad of Ira Hayes" is based on the true story of Ira Hamilton Hayes,

a Pima Indian who was one of the six Marines seen raising the flag at

Iwo Jima in an iconic World War II photograph. Hayes' moment of glory

was followed upon his return to civilian life with prejudice and

alcoholism-Cash, moved by Hayes' story and La Farge's recounting of

it, vowed to record the song.  When planning out Look Again To The

Wind, Henry knew that only a few living singers could deliver the song

the way he wanted to hear it. He called Kristofferson, utilizing

Rawlings and Welch to sing background.

"I wanted somebody whose relationship with Johnny Cash was not only

musical but personal," he says. "I'd worked with Kris on a couple of

other things and I thought why not ask? Who else has a voice with that

kind of power and authority?" That same sense of intuition guided

Henry to choose the other participants and the material they would

render. For La Farge's "Custer," the album's third song, the producer

knew instinctively that Steve Earle was the right man for the job.

"Steve is an upstart, and there are very few people I can imagine

working right now who could deliver a song that is that pointed in

that particular way and do it authentically without cowering from it

or making it feel a little too arch," Henry says. "He really could

embody the kind of swagger that that song insists upon."

Similarly, Henry chose Nancy Blake (with Harris and Welch on backing

vocals) for the Cash-written "The Talking Leaves," Norman Blake to

sing "Drums," the Milk Carton Kids to lead "White Girl" (both of those

authored by La Farge) and the powerhouse vocalist Rhiannon Giddens of

the Carolina Chocolate Drops for the original album's finale, "The

Vanishing Race," written by Cash's good friend Johnny Horton. To

bolster the album (the original, typical of mid-'60s vinyl LPs, ran

just over a half hour), Henry fills out the track list of Look Again

To The Wind with reprises of "Apache Tears" and "As Long As the Grass

Shall Grow"-both sung by Welch and Rawlings-and ends the set with the

title track, a La Farge tune that did not appear on the original

Johnny Cash album but instead on the songwriter's own 1963 release As

Long as the Grass Shall Grow: Peter La Farge Sings Of The Indians.

Here it's sung by Bill Miller, with Sam Bush providing mandolin and

Dennis Crouch upright bass, a fine and fitting coda to the collection.

From the start, Henry looked at the project as one that would require

great personal commitment and responsibility on his own part.

Approached as potential producer of the project by the man who first

envisioned it, Sony Music Masterworks' Senior Vice President Chuck

Mitchell (who'd been in conversations with Antonino D'Ambrosio, author

of A Heartbeat and a Guitar, a book about the making of Bitter Tears),

Henry immediately understood the importance of the assignment. "Johnny

Cash was my first musical hero and I feel a profound debt to him as an

artist, and as a courageous one," he says. "How could I say no to

that?" He also realized that the Bitter Tears album held a special

place in Cash's canon, and that in many ways the issues it raised

still resonate today-this had to be apparent in the new versions. "Mr.

Cash knew that if he took this on, even if his point of view was not

adopted, he had the power to be heard," Henry says.

The album was recorded in three sessions: the first two in Los Angeles

and Nashville and, lastly, one at the Cash Cabin, in Cash's hometown

of Hendersonville, Tennessee, where Bill Miller cut his contribution.

Providing the instrumental backing for most of the album are Greg

Leisz (steel guitar, guitars), Keefus Ciancia (keyboards), Patrick

Warren (keyboards for the L.A. sessions), Jay Bellerose (drums) and

Dave Piltch (bass).

Sony Music Masterworks comprises Masterworks, Sony Classical, OKeh,

Portrait, Masterworks Broadway and Flying Buddha imprints. For email

updates and information please visit www.SonyMasterworks.com .

TRACKLIST:

As Long as the Grass Shall Grow - feat. Gillian Welch & David Rawlings

Apache Tears - feat. Emmylou Harris w/The Milk Carton Kids

Custer - feat. Steve Earle w/The Milk Carton Kids

The Talking Leaves - feat. Nancy Blake w/ Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings

The Ballad of Ira Hayes - feat. Kris Kristofferson w/ Gillian Welch & David Rawlings

Drums - feat. Norman Blake w/ Nancy Blake, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings

Apache Tears (Reprise) - feat. Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings

White Girl - feat. The Milk Carton Kids

The Vanishing Race - feat. Rhiannon Giddens

As Long as the Grass Shall Grow (Reprise) - feat. Nancy Blake, Gillian Welch &  Dave Rawlings

Look Again to The Wind - feat. Bill Miller

SOURCE Sony Music Masterworks

-0- 07/08/2014

/CONTACT: Media Contacts: Jim Walsh, walsh@bighassle.com, 607-275-7141; Angela Barkan, angela.barkan@sonymusic.com, 212-833-8575; Larissa Slezak, larissa.slezak@sonymusic.com, 212-833-6075

/Web Site: http://www.SonyMasterworks.com

CO: Sony Music Masterworks

ST: New York

IN: ENT MUS

SU: PDT NTA

PRN

-- NY64901 --

0000 07/08/2014 16:15:00 EDT http://www.prnewswire.com

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