Listen to Johnny Cash’s Newly Released Live Version of ‘The Ballad of Ira Hayes’ From 1968

by Jim Casey

Start your day with new music from Johnny Cash. The Man in Black’s new version of “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” from his 1968 concert at the Carousel Ballroom is available today.

“The Ballad of Ira Hayes” is one of 28 new tracks featured on the upcoming album, Johnny Cash at the Carousel Ballroom. Johnny performed at the Carousel Ballroom in San Francisco on April 24, 1968. The counterculture venue in the heart of Haight-Ashbury was briefly operated as a collective by Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead. Later, the venue was rebranded as the Fillmore West.

Audio engineer Owsley “Bear” Stanley captured Johnny’s concert at the Carousel. The upcoming record, which will drop on September 24, marks the newest entry from the Bear’s Sonic Journals series. Previous series have featured live recordings of Doc & Merle Watson, Tim Buckley, The Allman Brothers Band, and more.

‘The Ballad of Ira Hayes’

Of course, Johnny Cash was a fiercely independent entertainer who helped break the barriers of country’s long-standing image. Instead of cowboy hats and blue jeans, Johnny donned black outfits that contributed to his mysterious appeal. And if you were wondering why he wore black, look no further than his 1971 Top 5 single, “Man in Black.”

“I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down” and “I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,” sang Johnny, in his distinctive croon. Johnny defied convention through his music—writing and performing tunes that took on social importance, including “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” and “Folsom Prison Blues.” He recorded those tunes in the 1960s, a time when country music still adhered to—for the most part—conservative messages and themes.

Johnny Cash recorded “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” which was penned by folk singer Peter La Farge, on his 1964 concept album, Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian. The tune told the story of Native American Ira Hayes, who was one of six Marines immortalized in the iconic photo, Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, during World War II. Hayes, 32, died from alcohol poisoning in 1955, after returning home from WWII.

Some radio stations didn’t care for the underlying antiwar sentiments of the song. In response, Cash took out a full-page ad in Billboard magazine asking radio programmers, “Where are your guts?” The song eventually peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1964.

“The Ballad of Ira Hayes” follows the upcoming album’s previously released “I’m Going to Memphis” and “Cocaine Blues.”

  1. Cocaine Blues
  2. Long Black Veil
  3. Orange Blossom Special (CD and Digital only)
  4. Going to Memphis
  5. The Ballad of Ira Hayes
  6. Rock Island Line
  7. Guess Things Happen That Way
  8. One Too Many Mornings
  9. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
  10. Give My Love to Rose
  11. Green, Green Grass of Home
  12. Old Apache Squaw
  13. Lorena
  14. Forty Shades of Green
  15. Bad News
  16. Jackson
  17. Tall Lover Man
  18. June’s Song Introduction
  19. Wildwood Flower
  20. Foggy Mountain Top
  21. This Land Is Your Land
  22. Wabash Cannonball
  23. Worried Man Blues
  24. Long Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man
  25. Ring of Fire
  26. Big River
  27. Don’t Take Your Guns to Town
  28. I Walk the Line