Johnny Cash, also known as “The Man in Black,” is an unforgettable name in music history. With his raw voice and moving songs, he has influenced generations. His extensive repertoire ranges from country and rock to gospel. But which songs by Johnny Cash are truly unforgettable? Here is our top 10!
Highwayman is one of Johnny Cash’s collaborations with the supergroup The Highwaymen, consisting of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson. The song sketches four different life stories, each sung by a different band member. Cash takes on the part of the ‘highwayman,’ and his deep, raspy voice makes this an unforgettable part of the song. A masterpiece of storytelling!
9. God’s Gonna Cut You Down
This song is a traditional folk song, and Cash’s version is undoubtedly one of the most memorable. With a menacing beat and Cash’s iconic vocals, this song places heavy emphasis on the universal laws of karma. The accompanying music video features cameos from various celebrities, making it a modern classic.
A surprising cover of U2’s hit “One,” but in Johnny Cash’s unique style. It’s a gripping, subdued performance with Cash’s voice taking center stage. He makes the song beautifully his own, making you almost forget it’s a cover.
7. San Quentin
San Quentin is another kind of protest song, recorded during a live performance in San Quentin State Prison. The unfiltered enthusiasm of the inmates in the background gives the song an extra dimension. It’s a striking example of Cash’s ability to connect with the oppressed and marginalized.
6. A Thing Called Love
In this positive and cheerful song, Cash explores the concept of love in all its facets. It’s an accessible song with a catchy melody and is full of optimism, making it a favorite at live performances.
5. A Boy Named Sue
This narrative song, written by Shel Silverstein, is one of Cash’s most humorous and recognizable songs. It became a hit in 1969 and tells the story of a boy who goes in search of his father to confront him about his unusual name. The song is full of plot twists and is an excellent example of Cash’s narrative style.
4. Folsom Prison Blues
One of his earlier hits and often considered one of his best songs. Cash wrote this song after watching a documentary about Folsom Prison. The iconic opening line “I hear the train a comin'” is indelibly etched in collective memory.
3. I Walk the Line
A classic that everyone knows. Cash shows his versatility with “I Walk the Line,” where he both sings and plays a guitar riff that is as iconic as the song itself. It’s a love song with universal themes that have appealed to generations.
2. Ring of Fire
This song, written by June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore, is perhaps Cash’s most recognizable song. The unique trumpet melody and Cash’s deep baritone make this an unforgettable song.
“Hurt,” a cover of Nine Inch Nails, is perhaps his most emotional song. The music video, made shortly before his death, amplifies the impact of the song even more. It’s a rare masterpiece that prompts both the singer and the audience to deep introspection.