Watch Johnny Cash and Marty Stuart Add Twang to Soundgarden’s ‘Rusty Cage’
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In 1996, Johnny Cash released his album Unchained, the second in his American Recordings series. The project — which features Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as Cash’s backing band and guest appearances from Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and Fleetwood Mac’s Mick Fleetwood and Lindsey Buckingham — is filled with covers, including Cash’s take on rock band Soundgarden’s hit “Rusty Cage.”
Written by Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, “Rusty Cage” was released as a single in 1992, the third from the band’s Badmotorfinger album. In the above video, readers can see Cash and Marty Stuart perform Cash’s version of the song on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, in support of Unchained; “Rusty Cage” won Cash the Grammy Awards Best Male Country Vocal Performance trophy, and Unchained received the Best Country Album honor.
“I started to get messages on my answering machine from people telling me how much they liked the lyrics [of “Rusty Cage”],” Cornell recalled to Rolling Stone of the response to Cash’s version of the song. “We put that song out five years earlier on Badmotorfinger, and nobody left me any messages. When you strip it down and Johnny Cash sings, you listen to what he’s saying. It’s a whole different angle.”
Of meeting Cash, Cornell said, “I was just awestruck. I was totally scared, even though he couldn’t have been more gentlemanly. I wanted the conversation to be over before I put my foot in my mouth.”
On Wednesday night (May 17), Cornell died following a sold-out Soundgarden concert at Detroit, Mich.’s Fox Theater. According to the New York Times, a rep for the singer-songwriter — who also fronted Audioslave and Temple of the Dog and released four solo albums — called his death “sudden and unexpected,” and his family said that they will be “working closely with the medical examiner to determine” a cause of death. A spokesman for the Detroit Police Department reports that officers responded to the MGM Grand casino around midnight following a call about an apparent suicide. The victim was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor, with a band around his neck, and pronounced dead on the scene.
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