It’s not often we get to hear true ‘lost gems’ from artists as legendary as Johnny Cash. But that’s exactly the case with Out Among the Stars, the upcoming new release from the Man in Black. Recorded in the 1980s and then stashed away in the family archives for three decades, the recordings are finally surfacing this spring (March 25).
Today, Rolling Stone premiered one of the songs, “She Used to Love Me a Lot,” a solid mid-tempo honky-tonker that has little to do with the slick Urban Cowboy sound popular at the time the song was cut. Cash is in excellent voice, and among the instrumentalists is a young Marty Stuart.
Cash’s son John Carter Cash, who is overseeing the album’s release, felt the song represented some of the excellent recordings that got lost in the shuffle during Cash’s final days with his longtime label Columbia Records (they dropped him in 1986).
“I really love this song,” Carter Cash told Rolling Stone. “The depth that’s there reminds me of the real serious stuff that Dad did later in his life. And I truly think it’s one of the beautiful undiscovered gems in my dad’s catalog.”
According to details revealed last month by Legacy Recordings, which is releasing the collection, Cash recorded Out Among the Stars in the early 1980s with Billy Sherrill, the ‘countrypolitan’ producer who helped shape the classic sounds of such legends as Tammy Wynette, Charlie Rich and George Jones. The album was recorded in Nashville during sessions in 1981 and ’84 but never released.
The album’s 12 songs are not demos or outtakes, they are true studio recordings (see track listing on Radio.com). Accompanying Johnny Cash on the recordings was an ensemble featuring not only Marty Stuart but also Nashville A-Team members Jerry Kennedy (guitar), Pete Drake (steel guitar), Country Music Hall of Fame member Hargus “Pig” Robbins (piano) and Henry Strzelecki (bass). Out Among the Stars also includes a duet with the late Waylon Jennings and two with Johnny’s wife, June Carter Cash.