Johnny Cash had Cherokee blood in him. That fact, along with a strong sense of justice, provides rocket fuel for the passion that pervades “Bitter Tears”. At his 1969 Madison Square Garden concert, Cash said “…the ballad of the American Indian is a sad song…” The mood of this entire CD fits that statement. The musical arrangements lean toward the stark and minimal, providing an apt backdrop to the bitter, defeated, and sometimes defiant lyrics.
Most of the songs on “Bitter Tears” come from the songbook of a Pima-Indian, Peter LaFarge. LaFarge served in the Korean War, worked with Cisco Houston, made numerous recordings for Folkways and Columbia, and died in 1964 (of either suicide or stroke). That same year Columbia released “Bitter Tears”. This CD now stands as an unplanned tribute to LaFarge.