For the second year in a row, a tribute album may win the Grammy for Best Country Album. The 2001 prize went to ”Timeless: Hank Williams Tribute,” featuring Lucinda Williams and Beck. This year’s contender could be a star-studded collection feting the songs of Johnny Cash (who covered ”I Dreamed About Mama Last Night” for ”Timeless”). Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Sheryl Crow performed Cash classics for the as-yet-untitled album, due out this fall.
”Johnny Cash is everything,” says contributor Little Richard, noting the diverse lineup, which also includes bluesman Keb’ Mo’ on a slowed-down ”Folsom Prison Blues” and Travis Tritt on a twangy ”I Walk the Line.” ”He’s rock & roll, and he’s country. And then you hear some rhythm & blues. And he’s gospel. He’s in all of it, and he’s good in all of it.”
Dwight Yoakam, whose version of ”Understand Your Man” opens the album, says he owes his career to Cash. ”My earliest musical memories have Johnny Cash in them,” he says. ”The first album I ever put on a turntable by myself was Johnny Cash’s ‘The Songs That Made Him Famous.’ I’ve always viewed him alongside Elvis Presley as one of the icons of American music. I never qualified it by saying he’s a country icon — he’s truly an American icon.”