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
(1995)The Road Goes on Forever1995
VH1 Storytellers: Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson
(1998)VH1 Storytellers: Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson1998
American series chronology
American Recordings
(1994) American Recordings1994
(1996) Unchained1996
American III: Solitary Man
(2000) American III: Solitary Man2000

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 – he is backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. There are guest appearances by Flea, bassist from Red Hot Chili Peppers, on "Spiritual"; and by Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood, both of Fleetwood Mac, on "Sea of Heartbreak".[1]

Unchained focuses on covers. In addition to three of Cash's own compositions, Unchained contained songs by Jude Johnstone ("Unchained"), Tom Petty ("Southern Accents"), Josh Haden ("Spiritual), 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 release has more of a hard country rock sound.[not verified in body] 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 organ, vox continental organ, harmonium, chamberlin
  • Rick DePiro – hammond organ, synthesizer
  • Howie Epstein – acoustic guitar, bass
  • Steve Ferrone – drums and percussion (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 14)
  • Curt Bisquera – drums and 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


Grammy Awards of 1998"

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.[2]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Thomson, G. (2011). The Resurrection of Johnny Cash: Hurt, Redemption, and American Recordings. Jawbone Press, pp.195-198.
  2. ^ Robert Hilburn, Johnny Cash: A Life. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013, p.564