Bitter Tears (Ballads of the American Indian)
With his highly personal early 1960s work, Johnny Cash had been trying the patience of the Columbia brass, who were less than thrilled with his commercial performance. When "Ring of Fire" topped the country charts in 1963, it allowed him to continue the many ambitious concept albums-history lessons close to his heart. The eight songs on 1964's Bitter Tears are sung from the point of view of the American Indian (still the accepted term in 1964), and together they form a potent work that is both deeply real and highly spiritual. With assistance from co-composer Peter LaFarge, Cash offers an earnest, solemn portrait of Native Americans that examines a variety of issues through a range of viewpoints and contained in unadorned musical settings. Cash actually took out full-page ads daring radio programmers to play "The Ballad of Ira Hayes," but all of the material hits home, from LaFarge's defiant "As Long as the Grass Shall Grow" to Johnny Horton's mournful, spooky "The Vanishing Race."
1. As Long As The Grass Shall Grow
2. Apache Tears
4. The Talking Leaves
5. The Ballad Of Ira Hayes
7. White Girl
8. The Vanishing Race