Nick Lowe On Writing A Song For Johnny Cash In 12 Years

Some songs flow right out of artists while some, in Nick Lowe‘s case, take more than a decade to finish. Lowe sat down with Raised On Radio to share the story of how his song ‘The Beast In Me’ took 12 years to be ready for Johnny Cash to record it for an album.

‘The Beast In Me’ I actually wrote it for him,’ shared Lowe. “It did take me quite a long time to do it. It took me about 12 years. I had given up on it. I stayed up one night, I had this idea for this song, and I had a great first verse, and I stayed up all night drinking wine to finish it because Cash was in town to do a show in Wembley.”

He continued to tell the story of the initial introduction of the song to Cash, “It was no good, the first verse was pretty good, but he came around the next day because my wife Carlene Carter had phoned them up and had said, ‘Nick has written this song; he stayed up all night for it.’ So he turned to hear it along with his wife, June Carter, the kids, the band, and the roadies. It was a huge bus parked outside our house, and he came to hear this terrible song I’d tried to sing to it with a terrible hangover; it was awful.”

“When it was finished, there was this silence. I can hear it now; it makes my skin crawl the memory of it,” recalled the singer. “He just said do it again, and I did it again, and it was even the second time, but anyway, I never wanted to hear the thing again after that experience, but whenever I’d see him after that, he’d always say, ‘You’ve got something but it’s not quite right is it, but it is coming.'”

Eventually, Lowe turned his terrible song into one Cash was willing to record. Although Lowe’s first recording of the song was featured in his album ‘The Impossible Bird,’ Cash, who was Lowe’s father-in-law at the time, decided to record it for his ‘American Recordings’ album that was released in 1994.