A previously unreleased recording of Johnny Cash performing “Cocaine Blues” on April 24, 1968 is now available. The track, recorded by legendary Grateful Dead sound engineer Owsley “Bear” Stanley, is part of the upcoming Bear’s Sonic Journals: Johnny Cash, At The Carousel Ballroom, April 24, 1968 archival release.
The previously unheard live concert will be released on September 24 by the Owsley Stanley Foundation and Renew Records/BMG. The intimate show in San Francisco featured “Ring of Fire,” “Big River,” “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town” and “I Walk The Line,” as well as two Bob Dylan covers, “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” and the earliest known recording of “One Too Many Mornings.” Cash was backed by The Tennessee Three — guitarist Luther Perkins, bassist Marshall Grant and drummer W.S. Holland, as well as June Carter Cash.
“Bear’s recording gives us an entirely different perspective on Johnny’s live sound during this creative peak, and is probably the closest to what it actually sounded like to be in the audience for a Johnny Cash show in 1968,” Starfinder Stanley (Bear’s son) told Salon, where the track premiered. “There’s an idiosyncrasy to this recording; on every other Johnny Cash record you’ve ever heard, Johnny is centered in the stereo soundstage. But on this one, Johnny is entirely on the right channel, and the Tennessee Three are all on the left. That’s a bit weird until your brain adjusts, but you quickly realize that you’ve been set right between Johnny and his band.”
Listen to Johnny Cash’s previously unheard April 1968 recording of “Cocaine Blues” below: