Wanted Man

Johnny Cash may just be a legend, but he's never sounded better

"If I hear something that's comfortable to me, I'll do it. I've got an open mind and an open heart for music. It's the closed minds in this business that limit the potential, and there's so much of that in Nashville. Minds are closed down to whatever's not gettin' on this gravy train and ridin' today. And I just hate that kind of thing. I just always have and always will. I've always been a Memphis rebel. I never did do it the way they do it down on Music Row."

Cash recently told daughter Rosanne in Interview magazine that working with Rubin recalled the "freedom" he experienced at Sun -- a freedom he wasn't necessarily looking for, he says now, but one he's frustrated he could never find before. He insists he will continue to record with Rubin and American Recordings "to the end"; they have already begun discussing a third album, one filled with gospel songs and spirituals. It's only appropriate payback for a man who makes promises to God.

"I've got a producer and a record company who believe in me, and, more importantly, I believe in myself more than ever," Cash says. "There comes a time when nobody wants you that got so long you get to thinkin' nobody wants you at all. There was so much apathy on the part of my record company that I got that way too -- I got very apathetic about recording. I would wonder, 'Well, what's the point if I go and record an album and they press 500 copies and that's it?' I mean, I don't need any more lessons in futility. If I sell a lot of records or not, it doesn't seem to make a lot of difference to the record company or Rick because I'm doin' what I should be doin' -- and what I feel right doin'.

"I wake up with a new song every day. The song comes through me from somewhere. I woke up yesterday singin', 'A penny a kiss / A penny a hug / Gonna save my pennies in a big brown jug' -- a song from 1949. Just this mornin' it was 'Lucky Old Sun.' I mean, these songs keep comin' through me, recyclin' through my brain. There's no gettin' away from the music if I wanted to. It's there. It's part of me. I go to sleep with a song on my mind every night, and it might be a song I don't even especially like. I never thought about bein' without it. I couldn't imagine not havin' music. I can't imagine bein' alive and not havin' a song in my head.

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