Johnny Cash, Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian. New York: Columbia Records, 1964. Johnny Cash was an American country and folk singer who wrote and recorded over one thousand songs during his lifetime. Many of his original songs and covers were about historical subject matter, like “The Battle of New Orleans” about an 1815 engagement in the War of 1812, or “Big Foot” about the massacre at Wounded Knee South Dakota in 1890. In particular, Cash popularized topics of Native American history in a way that many white artists of his generation both would and could not. On this album, Bitter Tears, a song like “The Talking Leaves” tells the story of Sequoyah, a silversmith who created the Cherokee syllabary and made it possible to read and write in the Cherokee language. Today, Cash’s music still provides a way for new audiences to become acquainted with historical subjects. Moreover, his songs are a primary source on American legends and the relationship between History and art.
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