Hear Johnny Cash’s Previously Unreleased ’90s Song “Spotlight”

Hear Johnny Cash’s Previously Unreleased ’90s Song “Spotlight”

This month sees the release of Songwriter, an album of unearthed songs that the late Johnny Cash recorded in 1993, right before he linked up with Rick Rubin and had his grand late-career comeback. At the time, Cash was between record deals, and he recorded a set of mostly solo-acoustic demos of songs that he’d written over the years. Cash’s estate has fleshed those demos out with additional production and session musicians, and we’re starting to hear how they sound.

Johnny Cash’s son John Carter Cash and longtime Cash engineer David “Fergie” Ferguson produced the finished Songwriter album, and many of Cash’s old sidemen came out to play on the recordings. We’ve already posted the album’s version of “Well Alright,” and now Cash’s estate has also shared the smooth, assured “Spotlight,” which doubtless sounds very different from Cash’s original acoustic demo.

The finished version of “Spotlight” is a richly orchestrated track with a lot of strings. It’s got instrumentation from past Johnny Cash accompanists like Marty Stuart, Pete Abbott, and the late bassist Dave Roe. It’s also got the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who was invited to contribute because he’s friends with David Ferguson. Auerbach says, “It was the thrill of a lifetime to be able to play guitar on a Johnny Cash song. Hearing his voice through the speakers in my studio sent chills down my spine. I can’t thank John Carter and Fergie enough for including me.” Check it out below.

Songwriter is out 6/28 on Mercury Nashville/UMe.

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