A few months ago, the writers at Cover Me engaged in an online discussion about what would be their ideal dream cover, i.e. a cover song that did not happen, but should have. For my part, I have always wished that Johnny Cash would have recorded a cover of Metallica’s “One” during his late career phase. In my head, I can hear the Man in Black singing the words “Hold my breath as I wish for death” in a slow brooding tone as someone plucks the bass notes on rickety acoustic guitar. I have no doubt it would have been monumental, equal to his cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt.” Ah well, never happened. (His cover of U2’s song of the same name, while decent, does not count.)
I was reminded of this last week when former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted, who played on the original recording of “One,” released a live video of himself covering Cash’s hit “Folsom Prison Blues.” The performance, which featured Newsted’s current group the Chophouse Band, was recorded live in 2019 — so no social distancing or mask wearing required.
Newsted, appearing in a black suit and playing an acoustic guitar, looked more like an elder country statesman than a metal god. The group played the track as a hard-edged rockabilly song. During the intro, Newsted sang as if he was emulating Cash. As the song progressed, he channeled his metal roots, howling out the words “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.” While it might not quite match up to my ideal dream cover, I think this Newsted fella might have a future in country music.
Click here to listen to more covers of the Man in Black.