Johnny Cash, in the last years of his career, made a series of albums which mixed new compositions, country standards, and versions of contemporary songs from unexpected genres, such as Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” – which has become more associated with Cash than Trent Reznor at this stage.
Some of the most powerful songs on these recordings, however, are revisitings of country classics, such as this version of “Cool Water”, which I first came to know via The Sons of the Pioneers. It has a great simplicity, and the sense of it being a worksong about, well, lacking water, is quite strong. It is sung by Tim Blake Nelson in the opening scene of the Coen Brothers “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” incidentally. Anyway, here is Johnny Cash: