On March 25, Columbia/Legacy Records will release “Out Among the Stars,” an album of “lost” songs by the late Johnny Cash. These songs were recorded in the early ’80s but never saw the light of day for various reasons.
For our first glimpse into this new collection, we’ve been given “She Used to Love Me a Lot,” a stark, elegiac song that puts the focus exactly where it needs to be: on Cash’s worn, rough and inimitable voice. The song feels stripped down, with nerves exposed and hearts worn proudly on sleeves. Cash was always a master of this kind of confessional songwriting, and even in death, he’s schooling every other musician out there.
The accompanying video, directed by filmmaker John Hillcoat (“The Road,” “The Proposition”), was culled from footage taken on a monthlong cross-country trip in which Hillcoat attempted to chronicle the darker side of American life. Filmed in austere black and white, the video shows America without filters or blinders, revealing desperation, fear and the occasional bout of hope in every frame.
The lyrics seemed to speak to America as it is now, to the nation that loved him and to the great divide he fought so hard against. This divide has only grown exponentially since he died, so we wanted to show America under this stark light and as a homage to the very reason Cash always wore black: to the shameful increase of the disenfranchised and outsiders. At the same time, we wanted to reference the great man’s own struggle and journey from the love of his life to the burnt-out ruins of his infamous lake house home, personal photographs, the cave where he tried to take his life but then turned it all around, the place he last recorded in and his last photo before his passing.
Watch the video for “She Used to Love Me a Lot” below.