Supporters try to resurrect "lost" Johnny Cash album
by Cortney Harding
Condensed by Native Village
Lost Highway records has released "American VI: Ain't No
Grave." The album includes the final recordings Johnny Cash
made with " producer Rick Rubin.
Cash scholars and relatives are trying to tell another,
seldom-heard part of Cash's story.
They're lobbying Sony to re-release his seldom-heard
1964 album, "Bitter Tears." Bitter Tears is a
protest album about the U.S. mistreatment of Native
Author Antonino D'Ambrosio discovered "Bitter Tears" in
the Bowling Green State University Sound Recordings
Archives. As a passionate Cash fan, this was the
first time D'Abrosio heard the album. The songs, written
by Cash, Peter La Farge and Johnny Horton, are deeply felt.
"It would have been very easy for Johnny Cash to make a
civil rights record at that time," he says. "He didn't.
He chose to focus on the very real struggle of another
group, and the album is relevant to this day."
"Bitter Tears" is obscure because Columbia records
signed off on the project, and radio stations didn't
play the songs. A frustrated Cash took out a full-page ad in Billboard magazine.
He chastised Columbia and the DJs who refused to
play the album. "DJs -- station managers --
owners, etc., where are your guts?" Cash wrote.
Cash's son, John Carter Cash, says "Bitter Tears" is
among his favorites works.
"Nobody did concept albums back then," he says. "And
this album solidifies my father's role as a humanitarian
and a spokesman for the underdog. It's such an important
historical record, and I'd love to see it get a proper
"People don't talk about the struggles of the Native
populations. Their issues get swept
under the rug, and my dad tried to do something about
it. No other major artist has ever made a full album
about Native rights."
D'Ambrosio says he's not the only Cash fan
in the dark. "I've met Johnny Cash buffs who have never
heard of this album," he said. "While it is technically available,
it's pretty buried."
Songs on "Bitter Tears
As Long As
The Grass Shall Grow
The Ballad of Ira Hayes
The Talking Leaves
The Vanishing Race
Sony has not answered
D'Ambrosio's messages regarding the album's re-release.
samples from Bitter Tears: