The Story Behind “Well Alright” by Johnny Cash and the Close Collaborators Who Reassembled for His Posthumous New Album

Johnny Cash’s posthumous new song “Well Alright” follows the late singer in a charming tale of falling in love in a laundromat.

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Cash’s new album Songwriter is due on June 28. The album collects demos recorded in 1993 when Cash was between recording contracts. He booked sessions at LSI Studios in Nashville, but after recording demos, he set the project aside when he met producer Rick Rubin. Cash and Rubin began a creative partnership, which resulted in the American Recordings series.

The American Recordings series marked a comeback for Cash. His cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” became an emotional and defining song as he neared the end of his life. “Well Alright” shows a much lighter side of the singer and the playful musical interaction between friends is an impressive accomplishment on the retrospective recording.

Finding Love at the Laundromat

“Well Alright” is about Cash finding love at the laundromat. A woman catches his eye, but she’s skeptical initially. Then, she looks again at the Man in Black and lets him assist her with the wash.

I met her at the laundromat; she was washing extra hot
I said, “Don’t you need a little help with that big load you got?”
She said, “No,” but did a double take, and then she smiled and said, “I might.”
As I rolled up my sleeves, I said to myself, “Well, alright, well, alright.”

He tells her it’s a dangerous yet beautiful night. Cash is gentle with her delicates and assures her he’s done this before.

The world’s half full of women, and the world’s half full of men
And sometimes one or the other opens up to let one in
But the one I met at the laundromat that dangerous, beautiful night
Said, “Yes, I do, and yes, I will,” and I said, “Well, alright.”

LSI Demos and Old Friends

John Carter Cash, the son of Johnny and June Carter, discovered the LSI demos of songs his father had written over many years. He stripped the instrumentation from the 1993 recordings, leaving only his father’s voice and acoustic guitar. David Ferguson, who engineered Cash during the ’80s and ’90s, joined the project as co-producer.

Marty Stuart and Dave Roe, longtime Cash collaborators, recorded new instrumentation. (Roe died in 2023.) Drummer Pete Abbott from the Average White Band joined the classic trio while the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach recorded a guitar solo on a song called “Spotlight.”

Vince Gill sang on “Poor Valley Girl,” and the late Waylon Jennings appears on two songs, “Like a Soldier” and “I Love You Tonite.” Jennings and Cash had recorded the songs during the original demo sessions at LSI.

Out Among the Stars

Cash’s previous studio album, Out Among the Stars, came from lost sessions discovered by John Carter. Recorded in the 1980s with producer Billy Sherrill, the album was shelved by Columbia Records.

The album is also a posthumous release for June Carter.

Playing with Johnny Once Again

John Carter Cash released a statement saying, “Nobody plays Cash better than Marty Stuart, and Dave Roe, of course, played with Dad for many years. The musicians that came in were just tracking with Dad, you know, recording with Dad, just as, in the case of Marty and Dave, they had many times before, so they knew his energies, his movements, and they let him be the guide. It was just playing with Johnny once again, and that’s what it was. That was the energy of the creation.”

With “Well Alright,” Cash reconnects with familiar musicians, some of whom died many years ago, for a new recording with old friends.

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Photo Scott Gries/Getty Images

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