Joe Henry’s Bitter Tears project due Aug. 19 (updated)


UPDATE 7/11:  Full press release at Sony’s website.

UPDATE 7/9:  You can pre-order the record at the iTunes store and download “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” featuring Kris Kristofferson with Gillian Welch & David Rawlings (or you can download the track individually).

UPDATE 7/8:  USA Today has a few more details, all of which make this sound like a uniquely collaborative effort between the artists.

{Original post…}

As you may recall, Joe Henry spent the first months of 2014 producing a very unique project, a re-imagining of Johnny Cash’s equally unique record Bitter Tears.

The record features performances by Kris Kristofferson, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Bill Miller, Rhiannon Giddens and The Milk Carton Kids.  The album will mark the 50th anniversary and be accompanied by the release of a documentary directed by Antonio D’Ambrosio, who also wrote the very excellent book about the original album, A Heartbeat and A Guitar.

The album is reportedly due August 19 from Sony Masterworks, and I’m sure you’ll be hearing a whole lot more about it in the coming weeks.  Press notes below:

Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited

50th Anniversary of Cash’s Landmark Album

Produced by Joe Henry, featuring Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Bill Miller and more

Of all the dozens of albums released by Johnny Cash during his nearly half-century career, 1964’s “Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian” is among the closest to the artist s heart. A concept album focusing on the mistreatment and marginalization of the Native American people throughout the history of the United States, its eight songs among them “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” a #3 hit single for Cash on the Billboard country chart spoke in frank and poetic language of the hardships and intolerance they endured.

Now, 50 years after it was recorded, a collective of top Americana artists has come together to re-imagine and update these songs that meant so much to Cash, who died in 2003. For “Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited,” creative leader and album producer Joe Henry (Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville) realized that the “Bitter Tears” album held a special place in Cash’s canon, and that in many ways the issues it raised still resonate today. This had to be apparent in the new versions he was recording for “Look Again to the Wind.” The album features American music giants Kris Kirstofferson, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Bill Miller, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, and Norman Blake (the guitarist and only surviving member from the original recording sessions) as well as up-and-comers The Milk Carton Kids and Rhiannon Giddens, interpreting the music of “Bitter Tears” for a new generation. As the original album was for Cash, this new collection is a labor of love with a strong sense of purpose fueling its creation. The album was recorded in Los Angeles, Nashville and at Johnny Cash’s personal recording studio, Cash Cabin in Hendersonville, TN.

As a companion piece to the album, the documentary, “We’re Still Here: Johnny Cash s Bitter Tears Revisited,” traces the history of “Bitter Tears” and the making of “Look Again to the Wind.” The film is directed by Antonio D Ambrosio, author of “A Heartbeat and a Guitar,” a book about the making of “Bitter Tears.”

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