Earlier this year, folk singer-songwriter Sam Beam, better known by the stage name Iron and Wine, joined a bill of prominent country artists including Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams, and Sheryl Crow for a tribute show in honor of Johnny Cash’s 80th birthday. The concert was released on CD/DVD last week as We Walk the Line: A Celebration of the Music of Johnny Cash. Beam’s contribution to the album was a take on the much-covered track “Long Black Veil,” which Cash recorded for his 1965 album Orange Blossom Special.
Cash’s version of the track was itself a cover, reworking Left Frizzel’s 1959 original. With his mournful take, Beam joins an illustrious roster of artists, including The Band, Mick Jagger, and Bruce Springsteen, who have made “Long Black Veil” their own. Beam slows down the insistent guitar that was Cash’s trademark for a slower track enriched with upright bass and keyboard. The track was a somewhat unusual choice for a Johnny Cash tribute in that it shares little with Cash’s recording, but it is a polished cover of a favorite country standard. Watch Beam’s performance below.