A song Chris Cornell recorded using the lyrics of two poems by late country icon Johnny Cash is sure to be poignant for fans of the late Soundgarden frontman, who died in May 2017. Cornell’s ballad, “You Never Knew My Mind,” was released on Feb. 26, which would have been Johnny Cash’s 86th birthday, according to Rolling Stone.
“You Never Knew My Mind” was the first posthumous song release from Cornell. The ballad debuted on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 show, along with an interview with John Carter Cash, the son of country stars Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash.
The song is a combination of two poems that were part of a massive collection of poetry written by Cash and discovered after his 2003 death. “You Never Knew My Mind” and “I Never Knew Your Mind” are basically the same poem written from two points of view. The verse was written in 1967, probably for Cash’s first wife, Vivian, since that was the year their divorce was final, according to John Carter Cash.
"And Chris took the two pieces and put them together in this one ... I can't listen to it without it laying me down,” stated John Carter Cash, “I mean it still and it did that before Chris passed."
Cornell called Cash a big influence as a musician in an interview at Cash’s Tennessee cabin and recording studio. Portions of the interview are in the video and the track at the top of this article. The complete track of “You Never Really Knew My Mind” is located at the bottom of this article.
"And he also covered a song that I wrote," stated Cornell. “Since that time, I've felt like he's maybe one of the bigger presences in my life, in terms of artists that I'm a fan of." Cash covered Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage” for his Grammy Award-winning LP Unchained in 1996, so the admiration between the two musicians was mutual.
The song is one of the songs included in a new Johnny Cash album titled Forever Words. About 200 poems written by Johnny Cash over his lifetime were discovered after his 2003 death. The poetry had never been released or recorded by the famed “Ring of Fire” singer. The album, produced by John Carter Cash, features Johnny Cash’s writings set to music by artists who had a connection with Cash, so the words and music create an album of collaborations. The album, due out on April 6, also features tracks by Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley, John Mellencamp, Elvis Costello, Kacey Musgraves, The Jayhawks, Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, Jewel, I'm With Her, T-Bone Burnett, Carlene Carter and Roseanne Cash.