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

The film is based on Antonino D’Ambrosio’s acclaimed book, A Heartbeat and a Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears.The book tells the astonishing story behind Cash’s little known concept album and his unique collaboration with unknown folk artist Peter Lafarge. With this still largely unknown recording, Cash placed himself in the middle of the fervent social upheavals gripping the nation at the time. Cash faced censorship and an angry backlash from radio stations, DJs, and fans, for speaking out on behalf of Native people on “Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian.” He decided to fight back. The book inspired Sony Masterworks to reimagine Cash’s highly controversial 1964 record on its 50th anniversary that included musicians Kris Kristofferson, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Norman Blake, Nancy Blake, Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings, Joe Henry and Rhiannon Giddens, have breathed new life into Cash’s visionary record, which came out four years before the American Indian Movement took over Alcatraz, four years before Cash performed at Folsom and six years before he recorded “Man in Black.” D’Ambrosio chronicled all of this in a new documentary that unfolds as a meditative mystery.


59 min