It’s more than two decades since the Highwaymen regrouped for The Road Goes on Forever, the final album from the country supergroup. Even so, three of the band’s members – two living and one deceased – team up in a way on “Forever/I Still Miss Someone,” the kickoff track from next month’s Johnny Cash: Forever Words.
A uniquely collaborative album, Forever Words matches Cash’s elegiac poetry – much of which was discovered after his death in 2003 – with musical performances from his contemporaries, followers and family members. Opening the album is a moving performance from Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, both of whom collaborated with Cash throughout their careers. Led by Nelson’s acoustic guitar and Kristofferson’s narration, the song features an instrumental version of Cash’s 1958 single “I Still Miss Someone,” which is repurposed as the backdrop for the final poem the Man in Black ever wrote.
“My father, toward the end of his life… was dealing with the loss of my mother, and was very much alone,” says Cash’s son, John Carter Cash, who co-produced the record with Steve Berkowitz. “There was a folder of letters that my father had written for my mother, and within this folder, there were a few poems, many of them very sad. But right in the middle of them was this poem ‘Forever,’ that spoke of life continuing on. Even in the face of my father’s own mortality, he still saw the vision ahead for where his legacy would go.”
Honest and unflinching, “Forever/I Still Miss Someone” contrasts the finite nature of one’s life with the indestructibility of one’s art. “The songs that I sang will still be sung,” Kristofferson reads during the final moments of the video above, which takes a quick look at the song’s creation. The clip also finds Cash’s fellow Highwaymen talking candidly about their bandmate.
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“I miss the music [and] the camaraderie,” Nelson says. “I miss us being together. We toured the world a couple times and had a heck of a lot of fun doing it.”
“He may be the most spiritual person I’ve known,” Kristofferson adds, “because he was conscious of his own mortality and his own weaknesses, but used his life to raise the perception of other people into the infinite.”