'SONGWRITER': Coming June 28, 2024.

Uh, could the song of the summer be a Johnny Cash tune? Probably not, but that’s infinitely more possible now, as a list of tracks started popping up overnight on streaming services in that “pre-sale” shade of gray — the most elusive, out-of-reach shade on the color wheel. Former Arkansas Times editor David Koon alerted us to the presence of the unreleased songs which, Pitchfork tells us, are a set of demo recordings from 1993, to be released posthumously as an album called “Songwriter” on June 28.

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The new arrangements are gem-studded, Cash backed by Marty Stuart, Dave Roe, Pete Abbott, Dan Auerbach, Vince Gill and others. Didn’t have a laundromat meet-cute from The Man in Black on our bingo card for 2024, but y’all:

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The tracks are co-produced by David Ferguson and by John Carter Cash, Cash’s son with his second wife, June Carter Cash. Among them: a track called “Have You Ever Been to Little Rock?” Color us intrigued. From Stereogum:

Early in 1993, Johnny Cash went to Nashville’s LSI Studios, which was owned by his daughter and son-in-law, and recorded demos of songs that he’d written over the years, some of which date back to the ’70s. Cash himself was the sole songwriter of all the tracks. The recordings were shelved after Cash signed with Rick Rubin, but his son John Carter Cash recently rediscovered the tapes, which were just Cash’s voice and acoustic guitar, with his late friend Waylon Jennings singing on a couple of the tracks. John Carter Cash then set about finishing those recordings.