Dave Matthews is about to walk the line with Johnny Cash.
Next week Matthews will add his vocal tracks to "For You," a collaboration with Cash for the film "We Were Soldiers." The country veteran recorded guitar and vocals for the song Sunday at his plantation studio in the Caribbean. His manager Lou Robin described the tune as a dark alternative/country song in the vein of material from Cash's last recording, American III: Solitary Man.
Matthews is a longtime Cash fan, and has covered "Long Black Veil" in concert. The two met in August '99 in New York at the Hammerstein Ballroom, the location for the TNT special "An All-Star Tribute to Johnny Cash." Matthews, one of the many performers, played "Long Black Veil" with Emmylou Harris (see "Springsteen, Wyclef, U2, Matthews, More Come Out For Cash").
Producer Ken Levitan, who is assembling the "We Were Soldiers" soundtrack for Sony, came up with the idea of Cash and Matthews working together, and both artists jumped at the opportunity. If they're still as excited after the song is done, they may work on more projects in the future, Robin said.
"We Were Soldiers," which stars Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Sam Elliott and Greg Kinnear, is due in theaters in March.
Cash is currently working on his fourth album for American, tentatively titled American IV and being produced by Rick Rubin. He's already completed 10 songs, and hopes to be finished by spring. The album's progress has been delayed by Cash's recurrent bouts with bronchitis, which have required hospitalization (see "Johnny Cash Released From Hospital"). The performer suffers from a condition called autonomic neuropathy, making him susceptible to pneumonia and other bronchial disorders.
On February 26, Cash will turn 70. In commemoration, on February 12 Legacy will release the two-CD career retrospective The Essential Johnny Cash. The 36-song collection features cuts from Cash's years on Sun, Columbia and Mercury Records and includes such classics as "I Walk the Line," "Ring of Fire" and "Don't' Take Your Guns to Town." The anthology also features duets with U2 ("The Wanderer") and Bob Dylan ("Girl From the North Country"). On March 20, Legacy will release expanded versions of five classic Cash albums previously unavailable on CD in America: The Fabulous Johnny Cash (1958), Hymns by Johnny Cash (1959), Ride This Train (1960), Orange Blossom Special (1965) and Carryin' on With Johnny Cash and June Carter (1967).
The Dave Matthews Band is currently working on the follow-up to its 2001 album, Everyday, which the group plans to release later this year (see "Dave Matthews Band Eyeing Next LP, Revisiting 'Lillywhite Sessions' ").