The Rebirth of Johnny Cash

The Rebirth of Johnny Cash

The American producer Rick Rubin is a legend. Initially, his name is only associated with the rap and metal scene. He was responsible for the worldwide success of the Beastie Boys, made the Red Hot Chili Peppers international stars, and created a milestone in the history of heavy metal with the band Slayer. At the beginning of the 1990s, there were rumours that Rick Rubin would like to revive the career of Johnny Cash. Many people took it as a bad joke. But the legendary producer made all critics to shut up. Together with Johnny Cash, he has started a series of records that went down in music history as American Recordings. The country star grew beyond himself and became a global superstar again.

The first encounter between the two so different types was anything but love at the first sight. Rubin had seen Cash playing live at a concert and found that his career is undervalued. He offered to produce a new album with him and initially encountered little opposition. Cash hadmany bad experiences with producers in previous years. At the end, one of them even wanted to give him a heavy metal sound. However, Rubin persisted and presented his concept. That was anything but revolutionary, because the voice and personality of Johnny Cash were the main focus. The instrumentation should remain sparse and be reduced to acoustic guitar most of the time. After a few meetings, Cash agreed and started what he later called his third career.

The Legend Came Back

First, he still had to be bought out from his current contract. When it went off finally, Rubin showed his new protégé numerous songs that he could well imagine for the first album. Cash was surprised, after all, many of these numbers and interpreters were utterly unknown to him. One of them was a new song by metal star Glen Danzig. He had written Thirteen, especially for Johnny Cash. The concept worked from the first day. The old country star had dreamed for years of being able to concentrate entirely on himself and his music in the studio without much ado. Rick Rubin offered him the possibility to enjoy almost total artistic freedom. He delivered the songs and Cash transformed them in his inimitable way as if they were written by himself.

Johnny Cash museum

Johnny Cash museum

Glen Danzig Wrote the First Single

Glenn Danzig’s contribution was to become the big bang of this unusual collaboration. Thirteen was released as the first single from the American Recordings album and hit like a bomb. The following record also made Johnny Cash a megastar in the alternative scene. The American Recordings cover became an icon. In the picture, Cash is wearing a long black coat with a frown and standing on a wheat field, framed by two dogs and supported by his guitar case. You can see the word Cash written on it in large letters. What looks like  production was a snapshot that was in the box in no time and initiated the rebirth of the musician Johnny Cash.