Although Johnny Cash is currently back in a Nashville hospital being treated for pneumonia, his Los Angeles-based manager, Lou Robin, was quick to stress that the country legend was not in critical condition.
"The doctor at the beginning of the week said he's in serious condition," Robin said Thursday afternoon. "But I'm here in California, and he's there, and if it were more critical, then I'd be there."
Baptist Hospital spokesperson Jessica Etz said that Cash is still listed in serious condition, but that he is "improving and is responding to the treatment for pneumonia." Cash was in the hospital last week being treated for pneumonia; he went home on Friday, but had to return Sunday.
Cash's last serious bout with pneumonia was eighteen months ago. Robin said the illness is a scourge of the Shy Drager degenerative nerve disease that Cash suffers from. "Consequently, he's very aware that if you get a little bronchitis, it changes quickly in this case," he said. "So he does look after himself and doesn't wait until it's too late to go. He'll be all right, though. He'll probably be in there another five days."
According to Robin, Cash has been "taking it easy" lately, but he has been choosing and recording songs for a third album for American Recordings. "He's recorded about seventeen songs for an album that he's doing with Rick Rubin, but they want to do thirty and pick from that," said Robin. "I think they'll probably finish the album when he goes back to Jamaica after November. That's the game plan at the moment -- they'll probably do it in January."
Robin said that Cash has been recording the new tracks with "various musicians" rather than with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, who backed him on 1996's Unchained. As for how many new Cash originals will appear on the album, Robin said Cash has already written about three or four and may keep writing, "depending on how he feels."