Admittedly, not all of Johnny Cash’s hit songs are here, but that would have meant a much longer list. These 10 are all great songs, and they cover different eras of Cash’s musical career.
This might be Johnny Cash’s best known song, other than possibly “Walk the Line.” And while it’s a solid song for it’s time, I don’t consider it Cash’s best work. But I tend to like his songs with a deeper, often darker, meaning than the more pop-like of his tunes. Still, a great song.
That’s right, the man in black wrote a song called “Man in Black” to explain why he wore black all the time. And why did he wear black? It was his own way to remind all of us about those who are having a tough time in life, and those who have died.
This is the funniest song Johnny Cash ever sang, about a boy who was named Sue, so be prepared to do your share of laughing. Word of warning though: This is adult humor with some talk of violence and some minor cursing.
This Nine Inch Nails song, originally written by Trent Reznor, has never been more eerie than when sang by Johnny Cash. I always found it interesting that in the last decade of Cash’s life he gained some acceptance from the younger generations for his cover of numerous Gen-X songs, such as this one. He does a fantastic job, perhaps as good if not better than Reznor’s original version, which is a great version itself. Truly, if this version of “Hurt” doesn’t touch you somehow, you might not be human.
This is a Johnny Cash staple song, and quite probably his best known tune today. It’s a good, solid, base-driven song, and Johnny’s deep voice only adds to the depths that dwell about the edges of this quite simple musical release. A great song in its own right, “I Walk the Line” was a small preview of darker music to come from this talented man.
Cash wasn’t alone on this one. Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings joined with Cash in the 1980s to form the country supergroup The Highwaymen. This was their first huge hit, actually a cover of a song first published in 1977 by songwriter Jimmy Webb. This version has a bit of that 80s sound to it, but it’s a quality song and Johnny Cash brings his own unique talents to make it even stronger.
Quite possibly my all-time favorite Johnny Cash song. It’s got a speedy tempo, common to his hits from the 1950s and 1960s, but it’s not a pop song or love song. If anything, it’s a speeded-up lament of a sad prisoner facing the rest of his life behind the walls of Folsom Prison. And this song makes you feel the aches and pains of this prisoner, a killer seemingly without a conscious, a man who should have known better but fell into wickedness regardless. A classic song in any genre.
This one’s a duet with Cash’s wife, June Carter Cash, and it’s my favorite of the several songs they did together. It’s about a rambling man heading out from home to go partying in Jackson, and his wife sitting at home getting not to happy about her man’s adventures. There’s more to it than that, and it’s a funny song. Kind of sad, too, in its own way. Enjoy!
One of the last songs written and sung by Cash, it is also one of his darkest in many ways. Much of it is the tale of the end of the world take from Revelations in the Holy Bible. It’s quite disturbing stuff, whether you are a believer or not. There are some slight hopeful moments in the song as Cash’s voice lifts, but overly its a dark tune that can shake you up if you think about its message too much. But maybe that’s the point.
This is another cover song. Originally it was a Soundgarden tune from the early 1990s. But here, Johnny makes “Rusted Cage” his song. Heck, the way it’s performed and sang, it sounds like a Johnny Cash song, almost like something he could have written back in the 1960s. As often is the case with Cash’s tunes, this is a darker song.
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