This is the opening track of Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian, a concept album released by Cash focusing the harsh and unfair treatment of Native Americans in the US. Part of the inspiration for Cash had been his belief that he had Cherokee ancestry, but years later, after researching his family tree, he discovered his ancestors actually came from Britain and Ireland.
Bob Dylan wrote the music and performed "The Grass Shall Grow" at a 1962 Carnegie Hall "hootenanny" hosted by Pete Seeger as a means of introducing new talent. Dylan has yet to get round to recording the song.
Dylan's Greenwich village colleague, folk singer Peter La Farge penned the lyrics. They concern the flooding of the Allegheny Resevoir and the ensuing loss of Seneca nation land on the Pennsylvania/New York border in the early 1960s. La Farge later wrote and recorded his own version of the song as "The Senecas (As Long as The Grass shall Grow)."
Cash re-recorded the song decades later as a duet with June Carter Cash. He altered the lyrics to describe his relationship with and devotion to his duet partner. The track itself can be found on his 2003 boxset Unearthed.
Movie director Michel Gondry played live drums on the Late Registration track, "Diamonds From Sierra Leone." The Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind filmmaker happened to be in the studio on a day when producer Jon Brion was setting up a drum kit