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A New Ray Charles and Johnny Cash Duet?

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Two musical legends, both now sadly no longer with us, are getting a chance to shine together again on a recently unearthed duet coming out this week!

[lastfm]Ray Charles[/lastfm] and [lastfm]Johnny Cash[/lastfm] recorded a song called “Why Me, Lord?” in 1981, but the song, for a still-unknown reason, never saw the light of day. But the recent discovery of correspondence between Charles and Cash led to finding the track.

“I am so proud when I tell people that I have recorded a song with you,” begins Cash’s first letter to Charles dated Dec. 11, 1981. “I hope you like this tape. I realize that the orchestration isn’t big and I don’t sing very good, but I think the thing has a feeling and a quality that the fans would really enjoy. I would like to release it as a single on CBS, with your permission, on an equal royalty share basis. Would this be acceptable to you?”

It was, but no one ever heard it. The Ray Charles Memorial Library here in Los Angeles had to track down the recording engineer from the session, who pointed the Library to a storage facility in New York where the master recording was unearthed.

The song was originally written by [lastfm]Kris Kristofferson[/lastfm]. [lastfm]Elvis Presley[/lastfm] used to perform the song live, and [lastfm]Johnny Cash[/lastfm] performed a solo version before the duet with Charles.

The track will be included on Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters, a [lastfm]Ray Charles[/lastfm] compilation album, due out tomorrow.

[Source: Billboard]

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