Elvis Costello transforms one of country music superstar Johnny Cash’s poems into a lovely, heartfelt orchestral ballad called “I’ll Still Love You.” The song is Costello’s contribution to the upcoming star-studded compilation album Johnny Cash: Forever Words, which is due to drop on April 6 via Legacy Recordings.
In an interview about the project, Costello said it only took him about ten minutes at an upright piano to set the romantic poem to music. He had discovered “I’ll Still Love You” in a folio of Cash’s written works and could instantly tell the “Walk the Line” singer didn’t intend for this poem to become a song. “I knew right away it wasn’t to be played,” said Costello. “You could hear his musical voice on many of the lyrics on the page, but not this one; not to me anyway. I heard something completely different."
Lush symphonic strings compliment the piano as Costello lingers sweetly over the sentimental lyrics. One line talks of living a heavenly life here on Earth with an everlasting love. “I won’t be a stranger when I get to heaven/Because you give me heaven right here on Earth.”
The Grammy-winning new wave legend is one of a huge lineup of artists who pay tribute to Cash via these rare, previously unreleased writings. Other artists who appear on the album include late Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley, Kacey Musgraves, Roseanne Cash, John Mellencamp and more. This September marks the 15th anniversary of Johnny Cash’s death. He influenced legions of artists in multiple genres across multiple decades during his prolific career and is considered one of the most iconic singer-songwriters in music history.
You can hear Elvis Costello’s entire audio rendition of “I’ll Still Love You” in the video embedded above and watch his commentary on crafting the song below. Elvis Costello & The Imposters just finished a three-night live show run in New York earlier this month. They are also slated to perform at Nocturne Live at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, United Kingdom on June 16. (Click here to purchase tickets.)