The Man in Black is still shining

“Out Among the Stars” a tribute to the genius of the late Johnny Cash.

Parker Munson, Writer

Johnny Cash may have gone on to join the family circle at the throne back in 2003, but that doesn’t mean the Man in Black is through releasing new tunes. John Carter Cash has reached deep into his father’s files and pulled out a lost ‘80s album. Despite putting out eight albums in the ‘80s, the decade isn’t considered one of his best. By no fault of his own — Cash has always been an exceptional songwriter. The ‘80s were just looking for something new, and he wasn’t ready to conform for bigger sales. His integrity is just another reason to love him, and it’s also why his latest posthumous record, “Out Among the Stars” has finally seen the light of day.


On the first rotation, it’s pretty plain to see why “Out Among the Stars” never left the shelves at Columbia Records. In an era that was turning away from Bonanza to MTV, Cash wasn’t packing the heat — at least not enough to garner popularity, let alone new fans.

However, hindsight is 20/20. With a little distance from the Michael Jackson generation, it’s clear as an Arkansas night that “Out Among the Stars” is classic Cash. Laced with complex spiritual musings and tangled webs of love and loss, drug addiction, pain and reconciliation, this album has it all.


“I Came to Believe” was written while Cash spent some time in rehab after relapsing in 1983. Citing the relapse as the last push he needed to return to a faith in God, he writes, “I came to believe in a power much higher than I / I came to believe that I needed help to get by / In childlike faith I gave in and gave him a try / And I came to believe in a power much higher than I.” The tune plays straight from the recovering junky hymnal, powerful enough to pierce the soul of anyone with a vice. Which is everyone.

The single from the record “She Used to Love Me A Lot” joins the stylings of “Riders in the Sky” with Cash’s cover of the Nine Inch Nails track, “Hurt.” It would be right at home in a John Wayne film but also sits nicely beside any decent break-up song on your favorite sappy mixtape. “But I panicked as she turned to walk away / As she went out the door I heard her say / Yes I’m in need of something but something you ain’t got / But I used to love you a lot.”


“Out Among the Stars” isn’t all sad, though. Cash plays alongside Waylon Jennings on “I’m Moving On,” a freight train track packed with honky tonk piano and old timey blues riffs. Then June Carter Cash joins Johnny on “Baby Ride Easy” and “Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time.” These duets between June and Johnny are indicative of the lifelong relationship the two shared — a relationship with plenty of misery and wisecracks, but still endearing and full of love.

“Out Among the Stars” is a reminder, if we even needed one to begin with, of the genius of Johnny Cash. Not genius that scandalized a genre or polarized audiences, but a subtle genius that spoke to the heart of things, recognizing life in all of its hardships and victories, never regretting a thing and always looking up. 

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