By Kurt Wolff
A new music video from the late Johnny Cash? It’s a gift we never expected.
Released today (March 12), the new video is for the recently unearthed song “She Used to Love Me a Lot,” which is from the forthcoming album Out Among the Stars (out March 25). Cash recorded that album in the 1980s, but it was shelved after completion and is only surfacing now.
And it gets better: The video was helmed by filmmaker John Hillcoat, who directed acclaimed western The Proposition (from a Nick Cave script) and The Road (based on a Cormac McCarthy novel). Using a mix of black-and-white and color photography and a series of striking images, Hillcoat pulls richness and complexity out of a song that might have otherwise been mistaken for an agreeable but rather straightforward honky-tonker. Watch it below:
Hillcoat shot the video over the course of a month in locations across the U.S., from New York city streets to landscapes in the South and and the American West. We see country barns, junkyard lots, prison fences and city skyscrapers alongside faces people who may or may not be ‘lost souls’; a hulking Cadillac acts as our guide of sorts, winding down country lanes and pulling into vintage drive-ins. Along the way we also catch glimpses of Cash, both alone and with his late wife June, and of his famous house outside of Nashville, which was later destroyed by fire.
“I’ve been a lifelong fan” of Cash, Hillcoat told the Guardian. “The first film I made was a prison film [Ghosts … of the Civil Dead] so there’s definitely a connection there with the whole Folsom prison thing. I was also inspired by his voice, which has a truth to it at all times – that’s always helped me in terms of working with actors, no matter how big.”
Out Among the Stars features music that Cash recorded in the 1980s (with producer Billy Sherrill), but which was shelved and never released. It’s a complete album of previously unheard songs, not a collection of demos or alternate takes.