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The Covers: VIII – “Rusty Cage.”

April 26, 2020

Greetings once again, music lovers! Tonight’s offering will be the second of four posts featuring Johnny Cash.

The song “Rusty Cage” was originally recorded by one of my favorite bands, Soundgarden. This band was tremendously influential in the ’90’s, and one of the Big Four grunge bands from Seattle, the others being Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, and Nirvana.

“Rusty Cage” was written by one of the greatest rock singers ever, the late Chris Cornell, and was from the 1991 album “Badmotorfinger.”

A few things I want to write about regarding this song and video,  1. This is not even close to my favorite Soundgarden song, even though it is one of their classics. The fast tempo of most of the song is not something they did very often. They tended to have more riff-heavy slow songs. 2. I’ve learned not to try and make sense out of Soundgarden’s lyrics.. such as the lyrics in the slow part of the song. 3. If you suffer from epilepsy, I recommend not watching this video. I’m serious.

Ok.. You’ve been warned..

 

After hearing this song, you are probably wondering why one of the greatest music legends of the 20th century, Johnny Cash, decided to cover this..

Ok.. I will be as brief as I can..

Legendary music producer Rick Rubin (a sasquatch-wolfman looking dude with sunglasses he wears indoors) had previously talked with Cash about making an album. Cash made an album with Rubin called “American Recordings.” This was Cash’s.. wait for it.. 81st album!

Awhile later, Rubin and Cash made another album. This one was called “Unchained,” released in 1996 .. and no, the Van Halen song “Unchained” is not the one Johnny covered.. it’s a different “Unchained.”

This album featured some covers. That in itself, not an odd idea.. but.. Rubin thought “Rusty Cage” would be a good song for Johnny to cover. The 64-year-old Cash was surprised, but his backup band, mostly comprised of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, came up with an arrangement.. and it worked amazingly well. I like the Cash version a LOT more than Soundgarden’s original. You probably will too.

 

Alright.. a bit of bonus material.. a short video on how the album “Unchained” was made.

 

Next post, Johnny Cash with a cover of the heart-breaking song “Hurt,” originally recorded by Nine Inch Nails.

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