“'I Walk the Line' was a hit in November of 1956, that’s about a year before I was born, so it really is a part of the world that I know. But that’s the way it seems with great songs and great artists. Their impact on people is such that you can’t imagine what the world would be like or sound like without them.”
That was Lyle Lovett describing the first Johnny Cash song he ever heard, when he inducted Cash at the 1992 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony (watch video of Lyle Lovett inducting Johnny Cash into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame).
“I Walk the Line” hit Number One on the country Billboard charts and crossed over into the pop Top 20. Nearly six decades after "I Walk the Line" – and more than a decade after his passing in 2003 at age 71 – new, never-before-heard material from The Man in Black is scheduled for release in Spring 2014.
Pictured (l-r): 1943 Martin acoustic guitar played by Johnny Cash during his Sun Records recording sessions from 1955 to 1958; c.1955 suit worn by Johnny Cash during his time with Sun Records. Both are on view in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Cities and Sounds exhibit, in the Memphis section.
On March 25, 2014, Cash's estate will release Out Among the Stars, an album he recorded with Billy Sherrill in the early 1980s that was never released by Columbia Records, according to Billboard. During the time this album was recorded, Sherrill was pushing Cash towards a countrypolitan sound, which is closer to the pop genre than Cash’s earlier works.
John Carter Cash, Cash’s son, told Billboard about his dad and where this albums sound came from: "Dad was always uniquely himself," Cash said. "And later on the world would come back around. He never modified himself. But Nashville at the time was in a completely different place. It was the `Urban Cowboy' phase. It was pop country, and dad was not that. I think him working with Billy was sort of an effort by the record company to put him more in the circle of Music Row and see what could happen at the heart of that machine."
In a career that spanned half a century, Cash worked with a number of other Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees, including Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, sold more than 50 million records, had songs on both the country and pop charts and was able to remain himself through it all.
"We were so excited when we discovered this," John Carter Cash said. "We were like, my goodness this is a beautiful record that nobody has ever heard. Johnny Cash is in the very prime of his voice for his lifetime. He's pitch perfect. It's seldom where there's more than one vocal take. They're a live take and they're perfect."
Watch Johnny Cash perform "Big River" at the 1992 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony