Johnny Cash 'could cough better than most people sing', says former bandmate Marty Stuart

Johnny Cash's son and former bandmate have remembered the music legend credit:Bang Showbiz
Johnny Cash's son and former bandmate have remembered the music legend credit:Bang Showbiz

The late great Johnny Cash's former bandmate, Marty Stuart, says the country hero could "cough better than most people could sing".

Today (28.06.24), the "lost" album 'Songwriter' has been posthumously released after being reworked by his son, John Carter Cash.

The 11 songs, which were recorded as demos in 1993, have been stripped back to just Cash's signature bass-baritone voice and acoustic guitar by his and the late June Carter Cash's 54-year-old offspring.

And Marty, who played guitar for Cash and was very close to him, has recalled how the 'I Walk The Line' hitmaker only had to cough and his "character" would shine through.

In a feature on the album for The Sun newspaper, Marty said: “Johnny Cash could cough better than most people could sing — even his cough had character to it."

Marty spent many memorable days with Cash, who died in 2003, aged 71, and had recorded the tracks at LSI Studios in Nashville a decade prior to his passing, and learned a lot from him.

He said: “Whether he was conducting an interview or doing a press conference or acting in a movie, I went everywhere with him.

“He was my best friend and I watched everything. For me, the real classroom was behind the scenes.”

His son says his dad always took his notebooks with him to jot down any ideas he got for lyrics, and he has kept them all.

John said: “He lived his life and then the music would come."

When he penned the songs, Cash had no plans to release an album as he faced personal issues such as a broken jaw and had battled addiction.

His son explained: “He wasn’t looking to release a record.

“He was more focused on his personal life at this time.

“His jaw had been broken during dental surgery and he’d gone back into recovery.”

The demo tapes were abandoned when Cash decided to record ‘American Recordings’ with super-producer and longtime collaborator Rick Rubin, however, the re-recordings of ‘Drive On’ and ‘Like A Soldier’ were used on that record.

Cash and Rubin’s recording engineer, David R. Ferguson, joined forces with John to select musicians who previously worked with the late country legend to appear on the record.

Among the players are Marty, late bassist Dave Roe – who passed away last year aged 71 - and drummer Pete Abbott.

Among the collection is the poignant number 'I Love You Tonite', in honour of his wife, whilst 'Like A Soldier' chronicles his addiction battle.

John took a while to decide whether it was the right move to release the recordings, but he is glad he did as he believes the "beauty and strength he never lost" comes through.

He said: "I’ve always tried to follow dad’s wishes. It made no sense to him to release these recordings so, for a long time, it didn’t make sense to me.

“The person he was hardest on was himself. Looking at these (Songwriter) recordings helps bring up the beauty and the strength he never lost.”

John insists that whenever his dad sang, it was flawless, so they only had to build the music around his "masterful" vocals.

He said: “There is no such thing as a Johnny Cash demo.

“When he held the microphone or stood in front of one to sing and play guitar, his voice was masterful.

“And there is absolutely no lack of brilliance in his voice on these recordings. That being the driving force, we simply built on it.”