I have a theme song for my long days of grading now

Although, to be honest, there have been a few answers that make me feel this, instead.

I do have a terrible confession to make: there was a time when I would reflexively shut off any music source that played Cash at me. It’s country western, don’t you know…it’s bad. And then I made the mistake of listening to the guy, and I had to admit — he was an artist.


  1. Holms says

    Cash’s later work stands out in stark contrast to his earlier stuff; to my ear he became became amazingly reflective and emotional. Hurt and I Hung My Head are exemplary of this to me, and also stand out as two of the very best examples of what can happen when an existing song is covered from another perspective.

  2. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    My roommate my sophomore year was a C&W fan. Now I have an earworms from I walk the line and ring of fire.

  3. amandajane5 says

    I’m not a huge Cash fan, but Mary Chapin Carpenter writes the smartest, funniest, country music I’ve ever heard. “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.”

  4. Ice Swimmer says

    Some Joe Nichols singing “Tequila makes her clothes fall off” with a repugnant facial expression is dozens of light years away from these songs.

  5. Akira MacKenzie says

    It’s country western, don’t you know…it’s bad. And then I made the mistake of listening to the guy, and I had to admit — he was an artist.

    I feel the same way about Bob Dylan. The man can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but he still can sing.

  6. anthrosciguy says

    Not only was Cash a terrific singer, he and June (who besides her music could have easily been a standup comic) liked all kinds of music. On their TV show they had loads of very different musicians, including people who didn’t turn up on US TV much back then, like Eric Clapton. (That’s why the eclectic mix of musicians on that Cash tribute show just around the time he died – Wyclef Jean’s version of “Delia’s Gone was especially good.). They just liked all kinds of musicians as long as they were good. Mike Douglas (the big band singer and talk show guy) and Dinah Shore were like that too.

    That Wyclef Jean performance is on YouTube, I see:

  7. anthrosciguy says

    And on the subject of Mary Chapin Carpenter, among an awful lot of great songs by her, “Stones in the Road” and “House of Cards” stand out. Plus the double meaning in “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her”.

    There’s a lot of good country (I mean, El Paso, come on), a lot of Dolly Parton, the obvious Willie and Waylon, Bill Monroe, the various bluegrass groups, even Ray Stevens, who did pretty lame comedy songs and ridiculously rightwing garbage, also did “Mr. Businessman” (rhyming “harlot” and “charlat..an analyst” was brilliant).

  8. anachronistes says

    Johnny is one of the few C&W artists I like and whose material I’ve bought and listen to. I really appreciate the way he sometimes crossed genres in his later career and didn’t seem worried about his marketing or being identified strictly as C&W. His last couple albums are definitely worth checking out.

  9. says

    My folks bought an album by Johnny Cash called Bitter Tears in the 1960 that had the Ballad of Ira Hayes on it. It also had a haunting song called White Girl, about a white woman playing with an Indian man’s affections.

  10. Robert Harrison says

    Someone’s gotta say they prefer the original “hurt”, to me Johnny Cash’d cover just doesn’t cut it. It’s cool that he covered it, I like Johnny Cash’s other music, but for me the “hurt” cover is horrible, mainly because the original is amaaaazing.

  11. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Cash’s cover of Springsteen’s I’m On Fire is quite a creepy rendition, given Cash’s deep set “mature” voice, rather than the original’s more youthful voice. Musically, it is quite well done, the creepiness is purely in the timbre of the vocalization.

    album is Badlands.
    sorry to be such a Springsteen shill. Me just so excited as having recently reserved a seat for Bruce’s Boston Garden performance this Feb4.
    … oh my… I’ve seen him live ~5x, soon to be +1. yippeee. sorry I’m bragging

  12. gmacs says

    Numerobis @4

    Cash convinced me NIN were artists

    IIRC, NIN is only a band when performing live. Otherwise it’s just Trent Reznor. BTW, “Closer” and “Head Like a Hole” couldn’t convince you?

  13. wondering says

    Chiming in to say that I’m told that Johnny Cash was my favourite as a toddler. I always started clapping when he came on.

    NIN – specifically Pretty Hate Machine – was the thing that got me through my first year of university.

    The marriage of the two straight up made my 30s.

  14. shikko says

    @2 numerobis said:

    Johnny Cash is the best Nine Inch Nails cover artist. Of all time.

    Trent on the video of Cash’s cover:

    “It really, really made sense and I thought what a powerful piece of art.

    “I never got to meet Johnny but I’m happy I contributed the way I did. It felt like a warm hug. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, I highly recommend checking it out. I have goose bumps right now thinking about it.

    “Having Johnny Cash, one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time, want to cover your song, that’s something that matters to me. It’s not so much what other people think but the fact that this guy felt that it was worthy of interpreting.

    “He said afterwards it was a song that sounds like one he would have written in the ’60s and that’s wonderful”.