On what would have been Johnny Cash’s 86th birthday, we all got a present: Chris Cornell’s cover of “You Never Knew My Mind” — which will be released in a new anthology of the Man in Black’s music called Forever Words — dropped today.
The cut premiered on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 radio show Monday. Cash’s son with June Carter, John Carter Cash, opened up about the song’s multidimensional origins. “There were actually two pieces — there was ‘You Never Knew My Mind’ and ‘I Never Knew Your Mind’ — they were basically the same lyric that was written from two different standpoints,” he said. “[Cash] wrote ‘You Never Knew My Mind’ in 1967. I assume and I’m fairly certain it was written for his first wife, Vivian. That was the year that their divorce was legal. It was also the year where his love for my mother flourished. So ‘You Never Knew My Mind’ was not something that he would have released at that time because my mother was standing beside him.”
Cornell fused the two parts together — and the effects land with real weight. “I can’t listen to it without it laying me down,” Carter Cash said. “I mean it still and it did that before Chris passed.”
Carter Cash is producing the upcoming tribute set, which is due for release April 6. It also features appearances from Elvis Costello, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Jewel, Brad Paisley, Kacey Musgraves, and Rosanne Cash. The LP is currently available for pre-order.