Remembering Johnny Cash (10 of Our Favorite Covers)
Ten years ago today, one of the most influential American singer-songwriters left us. Johnny Cash spanned the genres of folk, country, rock, rockabilly, and pop throughout his career. He is credited as a driving influence to the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and many, many more. His music is undoubtedly timeless, and proof of that comes with the multitude of artists who still cover Mr. Cash today. Here are ten of our favorite Johnny Cash covers in honor of The Man in Black.Phish “I Walk The Line”
Recorded in 1956 for the album Johnny Cash With His Hot and Blue Guitar this familiar tune was one of four hit singles to come from Cash’s debut album. Check out Phish covering this Johnny Cash classic from 11/19/1992 in the only way Phish knows how- with precision and a dash of that Phish humor.
Elvis Costello “Cry! Cry! Cry!”
Another track off Cash’s debut album, this particular tune is credited as the song that initially launched his career. “Cry! Cry! Cry!” sold over 100,000 copies (which was a lot in 1956!) in the southern states alone. After the success of the single, Johnny Cash was invited on tour with someone named Elvis Presley. Check out the great Elvis Costello taking on “Cry! Cry! Cry!” at Royal Albert Hall.
Ray Charles “Ring of Fire”
One of the qualities of a great cover is the artist not only paying tribute to the original writer, but also adding his or her own style to it. No one personified individual style quite like Ray Charles, so naturally, his cover of the smash hit “Ring of Fire” is something to behold. Enjoy.
Brandi Carlile “Folsom Prison Blues”
Quite possibly the most covered Johnny Cash song, “Folsom Prison Blues” from Cash’s debut album evokes all the qualities of a great folk song. The lyrics showcase Cash’s unique storytelling ability complemented by his rhythm guitar playing. Check out Brandi Carlile tackle this popular cover at the We Walk The Line show celebrating Johnny Cash’s music.
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals “I Still Miss Someone”
Originally recorded by Johnny Cash as a b-side for his 1958 album Don’t Take Your Guns To Town, this delicate, dark number was seemingly tailor-made for Ryan Adams. Offered as a bonus track to his 2005 album Jacksonville City Nights with The Cardinals, Adams delivers a stellar performance.
Pearl Jam “I Won’t Back Down”
The Seattle grunge kings are always ones to pay tribute, not only to their greatest influences, but to the legends of music. For them, Johnny Cash happens to fall into both categories. Check out Eddie & Co. performing a rousing version of the Petty/Cash tune, “I Won’t Back Down” during their memorable 2006 Gorge run.
Bruce Springsteen “Give My Love To Rose”
Even better than Bruce’s take on this beautiful Cash tune is his short speech at the beginning of the song. He speaks to Cash’s influence on him and many others in only the way Bruce can. This performance comes from a 1999 Tribute to Johnny Cash.
Johnny Cash & Neil Young “Little Drummer Boy”
Flipping the script on this list for a moment as we offer up a Johnny Cash and Neil Young collaboration on the classic tune “Little Drummer Boy.” Cash and Young recorded together more than anyone knows, some were released and some remain locked away, but this take on the old time Christmas jingle is not to be missed.
Pearl Jam “25 Minutes To Go”
Originally penned by Shel Silverstein, Cash added his folk spin to “25 Minutes To Go” on his 1965 album Sings the Ballads of the True West_. During Pearl Jam’s 2003 acoustic show at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, they took the time to further spin this nearly 40 year old song. E5kfjGQ" frameborder=“0” allowfullscreen>
Frank Zappa “Ring of Fire”
As if we would leave you without posting a Frank Zappa cover? Of course not. Although we previously covered the Ray Charles rendition of “Ring of Fire,” this version is in an entirely different vein and once again encompasses the Zappa vibe perfectly.