The Johnny Cash tribute album Johnny Cash: Forever Words will be released on April 6, and today, a recording of Chris Cornell performing the Johnny Cash poem “You Never Knew My Mind” premiered on Beats 1. Johnny Cash: Forever Words will feature Kacey Musgraves, Brad Paisley, Jewel, Elvis Costello, and more setting music to unearthed poems, letters, and lyrics from the prolific songwriter. Co-produced by Johnny and June Carter Cash’s son John Carter Cash, the album was described as “an exciting endeavor” by Carter Cash himself. During his Beats 1 interview, Carter Cash revealed the story behind the poem’s transformation into the Cornell track:
Through the years there were things that he wrote that he set aside. There were songs that he had lyrics for, maybe he had music maybe didn’t that that he never recorded… [H]e 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… [T]here were actually two pieces. There was “You Never Knew My Mind” and “I Never Knew Your Mind,” they were they were basically the same lyric that was written from two different standpoints. And Chris took the two pieces and put them together in this one.
Hear “You Never Knew My Mind” and watch Chris Cornell discuss the track below.