Johnny Cash - Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian

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Posted on Thu, 05/28/2015 - 5:50am
by Angie Spray

Member since: Sat, 01/03/2015

Release Type

Studio Album

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Album Overview

Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian is a concept album and twentieth album released by singer Johnny Cash in 1964 on Columbia Records. It is one of several Americana records by Cash; as its title implies, the tracks on the album focus exclusively on the history of and problems facing Native Americans in the United States. Cash had been convinced that his ancestry included members of the Cherokee tribe, and this partly served as inspiration for recording Bitter Tears, but later on as he began researching his ancestry, he actually had no Cherokee ancestry, but Scottish, English, and Scots-Irish ancestry. Throughout the album, Cash concentrates on the harsh and unfair treatment of the indigenous peoples of North America. The album was included on the Bear Family Records box set Come Along and Ride This Train.


    1As Long As The Grass Shall Grow6:10

    Written-By: Peter LaFarge

    2Apache Tears2:34

    Written-By: Johnny Cash


    Written-By: Peter LaFarge

    4The Talking Leaves3:55

    Written-By: Johnny Cash

    5The Ballad Of Ira Hayes4:07

    Written-By: Peter LaFarge


    Written-By: Peter LaFarge

    7White Girl3:01

    Written-By: Peter LaFarge

    8The Vanishing Race4:02

    Written-By: Johnny Horton

    The songs were written in part by Cash himself and in part by Peter La Farge, with the final track credited to Cash and Johnny Horton. The first song, "As Long as the Grass Shall Grow", by La Farge, concerns the loss of Seneca nation land in Pennsylvania due to the construction of the Kinzua Dam in the early 1960s. The one single from Bitter Tears that was released was "The Ballad of Ira Hayes", which reached No. 3 on the Country charts; the song tells the story of Ira Hayes, a young Marine of Pima descent who participated in the flag raising on Iwo Jima and became an instant celebrity, only to die drunk and in poverty on the Gila River Reservation where he was born. Both compositions carry a common theme of portraying white Americans as villains bent on harming Indians, blaming them for diverting water from the Pima and patronizing Hayes in "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" and accusing the U.S. of breaking treaties out of sheer racism by constructing the dam in "As Long as the Grass Shall Grow."

    Cash rerecorded "As Long as the Grass Shall Grow" decades later and released it on Unearthed with the lyrics altered to describe his relationship with and devotion to June Carter Cash; the track itself was a duet with the latter, making what ended up being one of her final recorded duets with her husband. In 2014 a tribute album Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited was released with contributions by Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings, Emmylou Harris, Bill Miller and others.


    • Johnny Cash - Vocals, Guitar
    • Luther Perkins, Norman Blake, Bob Johnson - Guitar
    • Marshall Grant - Bass
    • W.S. Holland - Drums
    • The Carter Family - Vocal Accompaniment


    • Produced by: Don Law and Frank Jones
    • Cover Photo: Bob Cato
    • Reissue Producer: Bob Irwin
    • Digitally Mastered by: Vic Anesini, Sony Music Studios, NY (CD Reissue)
    • Liner Notes: Hugh Cherry


    Side I 1. United International Copyright Rep., Ltd. (ASCAP) 2. Johnny Cash Music, Inc. (BMI) 3. United International Copyright Rep., Ltd. (ASCAP) 4. Johnny Cash Music, Inc. (BMI) Side II 1. Edw. B. Marks Music Corp. (BMI) 2. Lazy L.F. Pub. Co. (ASCAP) 3. Lazy L.F. Pub. Co. (ASCAP) 4. Alborn Music Co. (BMI) ® "Columbia". Marcus Reg. Printed in U.S.A.



    Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia : taken from -