A friend of mine has recently been posting his “top ten” lists of favorite songs by some of his favorite artists. He’s inspired me to do the same thing and, after a draining couple of days, I thought I’d have a little fun tonight and post my favorite Johnny Cash songs.
Some of my earliest memories include listening to Johnny Cash songs with my Dad. He was a huge Cash fan and I think it made him happy to share that love with me. I’d have to say Cash is my favorite recording artist of all time (as evidenced by this post).
Trying to select my ten favorite Cash songs is pretty tough. Of course, I grew up with the “classic” Cash sound: Folsom Prison Blues, I Walk the Line, and Ring of Fire. But with a career that spans 50+ years, Cash’s sound inevitably evolved and adapted, sometimes to commercial success (see the Highwaymen recordings), sometimes not (“Chicken In Black”, anybody?). As much as I love the classic Cash, I’m drawn more to his American Recordings period, a late career renaissance sparked by Cash’s partnership with producer / genius Rick Rubin.
So here are my favorite Cash songs:
- “Folsom Prison Blues.” The classic. That poor guy in Reno…
- “I See A Darkness” from American III.
- “Mercy Seat” from American III. “I See A Darkness” and “Mercy Seat” are covers that appear back to back on Cash’s fantastic American Recordings III. Cash completely makes these songs his own. I view them as companion pieces since I’ve listened to them back-to-back for so many years.
- “Tennessee Flat Top Box.” More than any other Cash song, this one reminds me of my Dad.
- “Spiritual” from Unchained (also called American II).
- “When the Man Comes Around” from American IV. This is the book of Revelation set to music. Just awesome.
- “Ring of Fire.”
- “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” My Dad had this record when I was a kid; this song used to scare the mess out of me.
- “On the Evening Train” from American V.
- “Hurt” from American IV. The video to this song is fantastic.
That’s my list. Ask me on another day and I’d probably have 5 or 6 others that I’d want to put in there.
No “One Piece at a Time” or “A Boy Named Sue”? 🙂
“One Piece at a Time” is one of my least favorite Cash songs. I don’t know, it’s just hokey.
I do love “Sue”, but I read once that Cash never loved it. He didn’t want to be known for a “novelty” song. It’s absence here is more about how much I love these songs.
I was teasing because those two were pretty hokey. But I always think of those two when I think of Johnny.