In 1996, when Soundgarden was at the height of its popularity, Johnny Cash delivered an unforgettable cover of the band’s song “Rusty Cage,” penned by frontman Chris Cornell. Decades later, on what would have been Cash’s 86th birthday, Cornell has returned the favor.
On Tuesday, the world was treated to "You Never Knew My Mind," the grunge trailblazer and Stern Show regular's first posthumous release since his tragic death in May 2017. The track combines two Cash poems into one gut-wrenching acoustic song and will appear on “Johnny Cash: Forever Words,” an upcoming tribute to the country music icon featuring various covers of his unrecorded lyrics, poems, and letters.
Johnny’s son John Carter Cash explained how Cornell came to combine two of his father’s poems: ”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 told Rolling stone, adding, “And Chris took the two pieces and put them together in this one ... I can't listen to it without it laying me down. I mean it still and it did that before Chris passed.”
Cornell's not the only Stern Show veterans on the upcoming Cash tribute, either. It also features contributions from Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Jewel, as well as a variety of other performers.
“Johnny Cash: Forever Words” is available April 6. Listen to Chris Cornell’s "You Never Knew My Mind” (above).