Before his tragic death in May 2017 at the age of 52, Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell contributed to Johnny Cash: Forever Words, the forthcoming album of adaptations of Cash’s poems to new music. Cornell’s track is the lyrically-haunting “You Never Knew My Mind” and Cash’s official VEVO channel is now streaming the track.

The lyrics include the lines: “And I suppose you never doubted / That we were altogether fine / You never really knew my mind / You never really knew my mind.”

Johnny Cash

Cornell’s widow Vicky recently gave an interview to ABC News where she denied Cornell would ever knowingly take his own life, although the official verdict was suicide. Vicky Cornell claimed the singer’s addiction to painkillers and struggles with anti-depressants was the problem, admitting he had taken 33 pills over a nine-day period. “He wanted to be there for his family, for his children. He loved his life… he would never have ever left this world. I don’t think that he could make any decisions because of the level of impairment.”

The album also features Elvis Costello, Willie Nelson, the Jayhawks, Rosanne Cash and Kris Kristofferson, among many others. It was one of the last recording projects that Cornell undertook. 

Cash himself covered Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage” for his 1996 album Unchained. In a 2016 interview now posted to YouTube, Cornell said that Cash was “One of the bigger presences in my life, in terms of an artist that I’m a fan of.

“The very first challenge really was crossing that threshold of changing one word,” Cornell said of the process of adapting Cash’s poem to his own music. “I think I had to cross that right away, where I’m thinking ‘I want to make a good song out of this, so that's going to have to be repeated, and this line’s going to have to happen twice,’ and that was a little scary.”

Johnny Cash: Forever Words is set for an April 6 release via Legacy Recordings. Watch the interview with Cornell recorded about his contribution. And you can listen to the whole track via the official Johnny Cash VEVO.