Music

When the Man in Black Went to Bat for Native America

A recasting of Johnny Cash's most controversial album, Bitter Tears, raises questions about the inclusiveness of American music.


Various

Look Again To The Wind: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited

Label: Sony
Amazon
iTunes

A Heartbeat and a Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears

Publisher: Nation
Author: Antonino D'Ambrosio
Amazon

You're forgiven if you've never heard or even heard of Johnny Cash's brilliant 1964 concept album, Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian. It wasn't one of his best sellers, though one of its key tracks, "The Ballad of Ira Hayes", would become a fair-sized hit. Without knowing the album’s history, the more cynical among us might believe that it was released a decade later, as some kind of a cash-in on halfhearted environmentalism and a popular sense of civil rights. You might even think that it was a grasp at capturing a younger audience, one that was convinced that all of us have Native American blood coursing through our veins.

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