Country Music Roundup: A new book of Johnny Cash poetry is now available

This Week’s News

7/4/90 Larry Kolvoord AMERICAN-STATESMAN.....Willie Nelson's 4th of July picnic. Willie & Highway Men with Johnny Cash.

7/4/90 Larry Kolvoord AMERICAN-STATESMAN…..Willie Nelson’s 4th of July picnic. Willie & Highway Men with Johnny Cash.

Johnny Cash may be one of the most prolific posthumous country stars. “American VI: Ain’t No Grave” and “Out Among the Stars” gave fans of the Man In Black more work to cherish after the legend died in 2003, and they were commercial successes as well. Now, a new book of poems spanning Cash’s entire life has been published by his estate.

“Forever Words: The Unknown Poems,” released Nov. 15, is a collection of 41 poems that Cash wrote throughout his life that were found by his son John Carter Cash. According to the younger Cash in an interview with Rolling Stone Country, he culled the poems from a collection of about 200 or so that the elder Cash left behind.

“Seeing my father’s handwriting puts me in contact with the man he was at each stage of his life,” Cash told Rolling Stone.

The poems span from when Johnny Cash was 14 years old right up until weeks before his death 13 years ago.

“When I read these poems, it’s as if my father is speaking to me again,” John Carter Cash said.

The book isn’t the final product for these poems. An album is in the works, too, with artists like Jamey Johnson, Dailey & Vincent, T Bone Burnett, Brad Paisley and Chris Cornell (whom Cash covered on “American II: Unchained”) recording some of the poems and setting them to music.

“Dailey & Vincent do a spot-on bluegrass gospel number and Cornell’s track is so powerful and gut-wrenching,” Cash said of the album.

The album is still in the recording phase, so there is no expected release date yet. “Forever Words” the book can be ordered here or at local bookstores.

This Week’s Best New Song

George Strait surprised fans with a secretive return to Gruene Hall last week. The show was closed off to everyone except some media members and some lucky few who had connections, but people were standing outside listening and thousands watched online in a livestream sponsored by Wrangler. The set showcased decades of hits for King George ahead of the release of his second box set, “Strait Out of the Box: Part 2.” It was also the first live performance of “Kicked Outta Country,” a new song that was co-written with Jamey Johnson, through text message, no less. The song is one of only two “country radio sentiment” songs from Strait, the other being “Murder on Music Row.”

“Kicked Outta Country” probably won’t get played on the radio, but it’s a great examination of the current state of Strait’s career while also acknowledging the huge part radio played in making him famous. And it’s always nice to hear another Jamey Johnson-penned tune.

This Week’s Worst New Song

LoCash isn’t really an act that one could call country, but nevertheless, this song has been on country radio since Nov. 14, and the duo are currently sitting on a No. 1 Billboard hit in “I Know Somebody.” This travesty, co-written by the much-better-than-this Thomas Rhett, features cringe-worthy lyrics about just how over-the-top someone is willing to go to prove he loves his “girl” (no name given for the lucky lady, naturally). The Latin-tinged song goes to great lengths to make sure it’s as radio-manufactured as possible, and even slips in this “It sounded better in ym head” come-on: “Let’s spend this life together, dropping f-bombs like forever.” You only need one finger for this one, and it’s not the ring finger.

This Week’s Best Country Show in Austin

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Hayes Carll. Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman.

Friday: Hayes Carll, Band of Heathens at the Paramount. It’s been a big year for Texas troubadour Carll, who released his first album in five years, “Lovers and Leavers,” and got a best country song nomination at the Grammys for Lee Ann Womack’s cover of his tune “Chances Are.” Next year is shaping up to be a big one for Americana rockers Band of Heathens, whose upcoming disc “Duende,” due in January, will be their first in four years. $22-$45. 8 p.m. 713 Congress Ave. austintheatre.org. — Peter Blackstock

This is the Country Music Roundup, a weekly blog where we’ll give you the latest news in country music releases and local country shows. For a more in-depth analysis of the genre and where it’s headed, check back with our weekly Gone Country blog every week.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or by email: jharris@statesman.com.


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