Who Wrote Songs For Johnny Cash?
Few artists were as able to communicate the full spectrum of human emotion like the Man in Black. From heartbreak to silliness, Cash’s music influenced tens of millions and left an indelible mark on American culture.
But who wrote the songs that the country legend sang? From a heartfelt account of the 1937 Mississippi flood to protests against mass incarceration, find out who wrote these Johnny Cash songs.
Cry Cry Cry
There were plenty of jubilant highs to Cash’s career but he also had his share of low points. During the darkest times, he would turn to song to bolster his spirits.
He often sang songs that he didn’t write but the lyrics had meaning to him. For example, on the album Man in Black he sings about a man who dreams of a better life while living in poverty.
He was not afraid to align himself with the underdog and he even recorded an entire album of indigenous music, Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian, in 1964. His voice and message resonated with people who had to fight for their lives.
I Walk the Line
Like many of Cash’s songs, this one tells a story. It details his values and lifestyle, with lyrics that speak about marital fidelity and steering clear of temptation and crime.
While his older albums sometimes showcased a more mournful sound, Cash’s last decade as a recording artist brought him a more robust, alt-country-rock approach. This included a series of dark songs dealing with moral tribulation and redemption.
He was never afraid to call out injustice, releasing an album of songs called Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian that highlighted the harsh treatment of indigenous people in America. He also never bowed to the rules of country music radio, which made him popular with fans who preferred an edge.
Get Rhythm is a fun and lighthearted song that demonstrates Johnny Cash’s ability to create uplifting music. It is a crowd favorite and often performed live with audience participation.
This song embodies the spirit of perseverance and the power of love. It is a great addition to any playlist about overcoming adversity.
The narrator of this song works hard for his money but is happy with his life because he has a family. He relates to the plight of many Americans who are not wealthy but are happy with what they have. This song was recorded for the second album in the American Recordings series with Rick Rubin.
3 Feet High & Rising
In a time where hip hop mainly relied on samples, De La Soul broke the mold with 3 Feet High and Rising. This project was an important step for the genre, and many music lovers consider it to be a classic.
The title of the album comes from a song written by Cash that explains why he wears black. It also discusses the treatment of the poor, mass incarceration and the war in Vietnam.
While the song wasn’t released as a single, it’s a staple in any live Cash show. It was also covered by Rick Rubin and Nine Inch Nails for their American Recordings series.
The song “Big River” was recorded by Johnny Cash for Sun Records in 1958. It reached as high as #4 on the country charts. A version with a verse that was omitted from the original recording was performed live by Cash during his concerts.
Religion was a central theme in Cash’s life and career. He was born in a church and his early years as a small-town lawyer included a stint working for Franklin Roosevelt’s Office of Price Administration.
His 1971 song “Man in Black” cemented his public persona as a part rural preacher, part outlaw Robin Hood who stood out in sharp contrast to the rhinestone suits worn by many of the other big country acts of the era.
In 2002, Johnny Cash recorded a cover of Hurt, a song originally written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. The song gained critical acclaim and resonated with audiences worldwide.
The song explores themes of pain, regret, and redemption. It is a beautiful piece of music that speaks to universal human experiences.
Reznor was initially hesitant about recording the song, but his producer Rick Rubin convinced him to take on the challenge. The result was an iconic version of the song that evoked raw emotion and touched the hearts of many listeners. It is a classic track that transcends genre and generations. It is a true testament to the power of music.