Listen to Unreleased Johnny Cash Song “Spotlight” Featuring Dan Auerbach from Upcoming Posthumous Cash Album, ‘Songwriter’

A second advance track from the upcoming posthumous Johnny Cash album, Songwriter, has been given its premiere. The tune, titled “Spotlight,” features a guest guitar solo by Black Keys frontman and acclaimed producer Dan Auerbach.

Videos by American Songwriter

Songwriter features a collection of previously unreleased songs that Cash recorded in 1993, and that his son, John Carter Cash, and producer David “Fergie” Ferguson reworked with newly recorded musical arrangements. The 11-track collection will be released on June 28.

[RELATED: An Unreleased Johnny Cash Album from 1993 Will Finally Drop This Summer—Listen to the First Preview of Songwriter Today]

“Spotlight” is a brooding country-folk tune with some atmospheric strings and a blues-infused guitar solo courtesy of Auerbach.

“It was the thrill of a lifetime to be able to play guitar on a Johnny Cash song,” Auerbach said in a statement. “Hearing his voice through the speakers in my studio sent chills down my spine. I can’t thank John Carter and Fergie enough for including me.”

Added Carter Cash, “It was great to have Dan be a part of ‘Spotlight’ and to add his guitar tones and his sounds to this incredible song. I think it really opened it up into a different direction.”

About the Original Johnny Cash Recordings Used for Songwriter

Cash recorded the songs featured on Songwriter as demos in Nashville at LSI Studios, which his daughter Rosey and her husband, Mike Daniels, owned. After recording the tracks, Cash met producer Rick Rubin and began working with Rubin in conjunction with a new deal with American Recordings. As a result, the tracks he recorded at LSI were shelved.

About the New Songwriter Sessions

Eventually, John Carter Cash decided the time was right to revisit his dad’s unreleased 1993 recordings. He teamed up with David “Fergie” Ferguson, who’d previously worked with Johnny Cash as an engineer.

The pair stripped the recordings down to Cash’s voice and acoustic guitar. Then, using the sparse arrangements as a guide, build the tracks with new instrumentation.

Carter Cash and Ferguson enlisted a team of crack musicians to record the new tracks at the famed Cash Cabin studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee. They included Marty Stuart on electric guitar and the late Dave Roe on upright bass. Roe (who died in 2023) and Stuart had both played in Cash’s backing band The Tennessee Three at different times.

Among the other musicians who contributed to Songwriter were drummer Pete Abbott, backing singer Ana Cristina Cash (John Carter’s wife), multi-instrumentalists Matt Combs and Russ Pahl, keyboardist Mike Rojas, and percussionist Sam Bacco.

In addition to Auerbach, Songwriter features guest appearances by Vince Gill, Grand Ole Opry guitarist Kerry Marx, and singer Harry Stinson. In addition, late outlaw-country legend Waylon Jennings’ vocals are featured on two tracks he recorded during the original 1993 sessions.

About the First Advance Track

Prior to “Spotlight,” a song called “Well Alright” was released as an advance track from Songwriter. The upbeat country tune tells a story of a man who finds love at a laundromat.

Songwriter Pre-Order Info and Track List

Songwriter will can pre-ordered now. It will be available on CD, standard black vinyl, multiple limited-edition colored-vinyl variants, digital formats, and via streaming.

Songwriter Track List:

  1. “Hello Out There”
  2. “Spotlight”
  3. “Drive On”
  4. “I Love You Tonite”
  5. “Have You Ever Been to Little Rock?”
  6. “Well Alright”
  7. “She Sang Sweet Baby James”
  8. “Poor Valley Girl”
  9. “Soldier Boy”
  10. “Sing It Pretty Sue”
  11. “Like a Soldier”

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