Ray Scott knows what you’re thinking: He sings like Johnny Cash. Of course, there are worse country vocalists with whom to be compared.
“I couldn’t get away from the Cash sound if I tried,” Scott tells Rolling Stone Country.
In the latest installment of his “Roots Sessions” series, the baritone behind the intoxicating single “Drinkin’ Beer” tackles Cash’s 1979 interpretation of Stan Jones’ timeless “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” “It’s one of the coolest songs ever, I don’t care what genre you’re talking about. It’s got a cool vibe about it and it’s dark. The pictures in it are so vivid,” Scott says of the ominous story-song, written back in 1948. “It’s an evergreen; that thing will never get old.”
The spooky tale of a group of cowboy spirits doomed to chase a “devil’s herd” of cattle for all eternity, “Ghost Riders” has been covered by artists from Vaughn Monroe and Tom Jones (who cut an intensely swinging version) to Chris LeDoux and the Highwaymen. But it’s Cash’s duet with Willie Nelson for VH1’s Storytellers in 1997 that may rank as the most haunting. With only their guitars, the Man in Black and the Red Headed Stranger take turns singing about those charging “red-eyed cows” and the cowpokes in pursuit.
Scott, meanwhile, is gearing up for the release of his pedal-steel-driven next single, “Ain’t Always Thirsty,” a track from his latest album, the self-titled Ray Scott. Rolling Stone Country will premiere the video for the song, filmed in a seedy motel in Nashville, next week.