How Tom Petty Connected Johnny Cash With Chris Cornell ‘Spiritually’ Is Beautiful


Johnny Cash’s son John Carter was interviewed by Zane Lowe on Monday to discuss Chris Cornell and Johnny Cash’s posthumous collaboration “You Never Knew My Mind.” They also discussed Johnny’s version of Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage.” Keep in mind this is a rough transcription we were sent.

Zane Lowe: One of the things that I really I always remember about Chris was he was very aware of his voice and very aware of the power that he had when he sang. It wasn’t like he was overly humble about his talent he knew he had it but he was also unafraid to say things that made us feel unafraid and unalone. And that that is in this song.

John Carter Cash: Yeah you’re telling me man. And that’s exactly what I feel. And that was my father. You know of course it with a different voice and in a different way. But you know dad could also you know he could sing the songs that perhaps another artist would not sing. Take them on individually. Show his frailties his weaknesses, his fears and still not lose his dignity. And you know but yeah you’re right. There is common line of artistry there. No matter how varied it may be it brought the two works together, the melody and the music. And Chris you know there were actually two pieces. There was “you never knew my mind” and “I never knew your mind”. And they were they were basically the same lyric that was written from two different standpoints. And Chris took the two pieces and put them together in this one. I know man it still, I can’t listen to it without it laying me down. I mean it’s still and it did that before Chris passed. He connected with Dad, Dad connected with him.

Zane: It’s amazing to think that Chris got a chance to pay tribute to the words of your father because your father had you know to some degree paid tribute to the words of Chris and his band with “Rusty Cage” and had chosen that song with you guys and with you and Rick [Rubin] and said you know OK.

John: Rick had the vision and the musicians you know the Heartbreakers were pretty handy to have around to interpret you know a version that was a you know a middle place for dad and it you know I mean and that was it man. Did you see Chris on his solo tour this last year that he did

Zane: No I missed him as Tom Petty as well so I’m struggling right now with that.

John: It’s all good man. But he he said you know sometimes when I try to translate my songs to acoustic my Soundgarden versions don’t work that well said but this works. And he did jump the Johnny Cash version of “Rusty Cage” with a guitar and it was amazing. I get I’m shelling so I mean seriously he connected with Dad, Dad connected with him and so he did the meter the tempo the feel the energy of it except that voice was in there screaming those belts you know man.

Zane: Did you speak to Dad about “Rusty Cage” Do you have ever did he ever even mention just a few words in passing about why that song connected with him.

John: Yeah. He said I heard the original version wasn’t quite sure and then I think that Rick sort of with Tom Petty and the guys just sort of melded a version that they thought would have worked for Dad.

He wound up nailing it and it connected him with the words, you always had to connect with the song almost like on a spiritual level, on a personal level before you do it. There were things that that I even thought that perhaps he would be interested in that he wasn’t. And then there were things that that I didn’t see coming, that Dad pulled out of his pocket that Rick wouldn’t even see coming either so yeah. He always surprised us.