Unchained (Johnny Cash album)

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Studio album by Johnny Cash
Released November 5, 1996
Recorded 1995–1996
Length 41:11
Label American/
Warner Bros.
Producer Rick Rubin
Johnny Cash chronology
The Road Goes on Forever
VH1 Storytellers: Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson
American series chronology
American Recordings
American III: Solitary Man

Unchained, also known as American II: Unchained, is the second album in Johnny Cash's American Recordings series (and his 82nd overall). Like all Cash's albums for American, Unchained was produced by Rick Rubin. In contrast to the first American Recordings album, on which Cash played alone, on the follow-up he is backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, with guest appearances by Flea, bassist from Red Hot Chili Peppers, on "Spiritual", and Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood, both of Fleetwood Mac, on "Sea of Heartbreak".

Unchained focuses more on covers and less on original material than the first album in the series. In addition to three of Cash's own compositions, Unchained contained songs by Tom Petty ("Southern Accents"), Soundgarden ("Rusty Cage") and Beck ("Rowboat"), The album also included a cover of the classic 1962 Hank Snow song, "I've Been Everywhere", written by Geoff Mack, and remakes of two songs Cash recorded early in his career for Sun Records: "Country Boy" and "Mean Eyed Cat". In comparison with the country folk sound of Cash's other American Recordings' albums this one has more of a hard, true country rock sound. The album was recorded over a six-month period with engineer Sylvia Massy at Sound City Studios, Ocean Way Studios, Rick Rubin's home studio and The Cowboy Arms And Recording Spa in Nashville, Tennessee and mastered at Oasis Mastering, Studio City, California.

Unchained received a Grammy for Best Country Album and Cash was nominated for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for his version of Rusty Cage.

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars link
Robert Christgau (1-star Honorable Mention) link

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Rowboat" Beck 3:44
2. "Sea of Heartbreak" Paul Hampton, Hal David 2:42
3. "Rusty Cage" Chris Cornell 2:49
4. "The One Rose (That's Left in My Heart)" Del Lyon/Lani McIntire 2:26
5. "Country Boy" Johnny Cash 2:31
6. "Memories Are Made of This" Richard Dehr/Terry Gilkyson/Frank Miller 2:19
7. "Spiritual" Josh Haden 5:06
8. "The Kneeling Drunkard's Plea" Maybelle Carter/Anita Carter/Helen Carter/June Carter Cash 2:32
9. "Southern Accents" Tom Petty 4:41
10. "Mean Eyed Cat" Johnny Cash 2:33
11. "Meet Me in Heaven" Johnny Cash 3:21
12. "I Never Picked Cotton" Bobby George/Charles Williams 2:39
13. "Unchained" Jude Johnstone 2:51
14. "I've Been Everywhere" Geoff Mack 3:16


  • Johnny Cash – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
  • Tom Petty – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Bass, Chamberlin
  • Mike Campbell – Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Bass, Mandolin, Dobro
  • Benmont Tench – Piano, Hammond B3 Organ, Vox Continental Organ, Harmonium, Chamberlin
  • Rick DePiro – Hammond B3, Electronic Keyboard
  • Howie Epstein – Acoustic Guitar, Bass
  • Steve Ferrone – Drums & Percussion (1,2,3,4,5,6,10,12,14)
  • Curt Bisquera – Drums & Percussion (7,8)
  • Marty Stuart – Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Bass (1,4,5,10,11,12,13,14)
  • Flea – Bass (7)
  • Lindsey Buckingham – Acoustic Guitar (2)
  • Mick Fleetwood – Percussion (2)
  • Juliet Prater – Percussion (3)

Additional personnel[edit]

  • Rick Rubin – Producer
  • David Ferguson – Engineer
  • Sylvia Massy – Engineer, Mixing
  • John Ewing Jr., Greg Fidelman, Eddie Miller, Michael Stock – Assistant Engineers
  • Gene Grimaldi, Eddy Schreyer – Mastering (Oasis Mastering)
  • Martyn Atkins – Art Direction, Photography
  • Christine Cano – Art Direction, Design, Photography, Inlay Photography
  • Andy Earl – Photography

Chart performance[edit]


Chart (1996) Peak
U.S. Billboard 200 170
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums 26


Best Country Album

Unused tracks[edit]

According to biographer Robert Hilburn, Cash recorded a cover version of Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" during the recording sessions for Unchained, but it was not released.[1]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Robert Hilburn, Johnny Cash: A Life. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013, p.564