Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited
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The '60s proved to be a time of great change, and Johnny Cash was that rare country performer who didn't adhere to the general conservative tone of most country music. His 1964 album Bitter Tears, which yielded the hit single “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” featured an entire album of songs dedicated to demonstrating how Native Americans were mistreated throughout U.S. history. To celebrate the album's 50th anniversary, producer/musician Joe Henry assembled this collection of esteemed country and folk artists covering the songs from the legendary album, many of which were written by Peter LaFarge. Not surprisingly, Emmylou Harris’ version of “Apache Tears,” performed with The Milk Carton Kids, is a highlight, with Harris adding an intimacy that the stoic Cash generally repelled. The “Reprise” version by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings is performed as a solemn instrumental. Welch brings her vocals to the opening version of “As Long as the Grass Will Grow.” Kris Kristofferson tackles the hit “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” with true grit. Steve Earle relishes his role in the powerful “Custer.”
A little disappointing
Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears is my favorite Cash album. While the songs featuring Emmylou Harris are fantastic, Gillian Welch's effort seemed lackluster.
First Nations deserve this
Great songs, from great artists for the American Indian. Thank you Johnny Cash.
Definitely Not The Original...
Cash's Bitter Tears is probably the most powerful complete album I've ever heard. That's a five star review all day. It's always gracious that other recording artists feel compelled to re-record these tracks on a tribute album, but 9/10 times the tribute album turns into a butchering. This effort is no exception.
I can appreciate the Steve Earle, Kris Kristofferson, & Emmylou Harris contributions as their voices have accumulated the miles to do some justice. You just can't have other soft, angelic voices play Johnny.
I'm glad that folks can find profound meaning in the original album. So if you need the blueprint to social commentary buy the genuine article.