We’re Still Here: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited

We’re Still Here: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited · We’re Still Here: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited

Antonino D'Ambrosio

2015, USA, 56'


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16 Sep 2016 · Passos Manuel · 22H00


In 1964, Johnny Cash – who up to that point was known solely as a country singer – recorded Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian, a concept album of folk songs about the treatment of Native Americans. It was not a great commercial success, primarily because radio stations and disc jockeys were unwilling to play such socially engaged protest songs. Angry and disappointed, Cash called Billboard Magazine to account in an open letter. “Where are your guts?” he wrote, and drew a parallel between the treatment of Native Americans and blacks – the Civil Rights Movement was at its height in 1964. In response to criticism that he had very rapidly transformed into a folk singer, he explained, “As times change, I change.” We're Still Here shows modern-day musicians making their own versions of these powerful 50-year-old tracks, which include the classic song “The Ballad of Ira Hayes.” All these covers were released on the 2014 album Look Again to the Wind. Contributors to the film include Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Bill Miller and Cash’s daughter Rosanne. We’re Still Here is based on director Antonino D'Ambosio’s book A Heartbeat and a Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears.