The epic image of Johnny Cash as country music’s most iconic outlaw does not always jive with the fact that the Man in Black was also a subtle, talented literary artist. This is evident on his Forever Words, a collection of Cash’s poems, lyrics, and letters set to music by a swarm of Cash super fans including her daughter Rosanne Cash, Brad Paisley, Kacey Musgraves, Alisson Krauss, Chris Cornell, and a lot more. The best minutes on Forever Words disclose as much about the artists taking on Cash’s words as they do about the complex man who once wrote them. Today, we will listen to “You Never Knew My Mind” by Chris Cornell, where he transforms a pair of Johnny Cash poems into a heart-wrenching acoustic ballad.

“You Never Knew My Mind”, Chris Cornell

“You Never Knew My Mind” is the first posthumous track to feature Cornell’s part in the project, since the singer’s May 2017 death. 

John Carter Cash assumed yet assured that Johnny Cash wrote the poem “You Never Knew My Mind” for his first wife, Vivian. John recalled that the year 1967 was definitely a year of transit for his father. That was the year that their divorce was legalized. It was also the year where his love for June grew. John also shared the track’s importance in the collection. The track was two pieces: there was “You Never Knew My Mind” and “I Never Knew Your Mind”. They were mainly the same lyric written from two different stances. Chris Cornell was passionate enough to take the two pieces and put them together. Who would not be excited to be a part of this project? If anything, Cornell was a good pick for the song. As what John Carter Cash said,

“Chris told me that he loved my dad not only when country wasn’t cool with all his friends but you know not that many of them knew who Johnny Cash was, but Chris said that he was listening to those live albums of my dad’s, his concept records from the Sixties.”

The Invite

John met Chris Cornell the first time backstage at a show in Seattle. It was not long after the muck movement had really, really gotten in full swing. Chris came up to John praised John for his music and added that he was listening to Johnny Cash when it was not cool to listen to Johnny Cash.

The eagerness coming from Chris to be a part of the project was obvious. The two became friends. Cornell’s honesty is felt through his performance.

Hear Cornell’s heart in this song, the firm sadness, the loss. Watch as he sings the pieces from the heart in this video.

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