Chris Cornell melded two previously unrecorded Johnny Cash poems into one heartbreaking song called “You Never Knew My Mind,” which was released on what would have been Cash’s 86th birthday. The tune takes on a deeper and more tragic note as it gives a deeper look into Cash’s mind and that of Cornell who took his own life in May 2017. “You Never Knew My Mind” is the first recording of Cornell since his death.
“There were actually two pieces – there was ‘You Never Knew My Mind’ and ‘I Never Knew Your Mind’ – they were basically the same lyric that was written from two different standpoints,” John Carter Cash told Beats 1 radio. “[Johnny Cash] wrote ‘You Never Knew My Mind’ in 1967. I assume and I’m fairly certain it was written for his first wife, Vivian. That was the year that their divorce was legal.”
The matching of Cash’s lyric and Cornell’s vocals has a stunning effect, letting you feel the remorse and pain of a lost relationship.
“I met [Cash] once or twice in my life, and he was so gracious and he was such an influence on me as a musician,” Cornell said while recording the track. “And he also covered a song that I wrote. Since that time, I’ve felt like he’s maybe one of the bigger presences in my life, in terms of artists that I’m a fan of.”
“Chris took the two pieces and put them together in this one,” Cash said “I can’t listen to it without it laying me down. I mean it still and it did that before Chris passed.”
“You Never Knew My Mind” is featured on Johnny Cash: Forever Words, a collection of Cash’s poetry and other writings set to music by Brad Paisley, Kacey Musgraves, Willie Nelson, and more.