Johnny Cash is a country music icon known for recording some of the most relatable songs in the genre that remain hits to this day. In order to show their appreciation for his contributions, many a songwriter and artist have tipped their hat to the Man in Black in their own music. The singer-songwriter led a complicated life full of addiction, love and success — if you want the quick version, check out “Walk the Line” — and those who love him, praise him, acknowledge the good, the bad and the ugly.
Here’s a look at the songs that immortalize Johnny Cash:
1. “Johnny Cash” By Jason Aldean
It makes sense to lead with this titular tune that shouts out Johnny Cash. Written by John Rich, Rodney Clawson and Vicky McGehee, “Johnny Cash” was originally recorded by Tracy Byrd. While on the surface it seems like Cash is just a name drop, the narrator’s attitude through the entire song personifies the Cash lifestyle.
2. “Nickajack Cave” By Gary Allan
“Every man has to come to a crossroad somewhere along the way, Johnny Cash came to his crossroad in a place called Nickajack Cave,” Gary Allan states at the start of the song. Allegedly, Nickajack Cave in Marion County, Tennessee, was the location in which Cash decided to end his own life in 1968. The song depicts the story of the religious experience he supposedly had, which left him with a renewed faith and another story to tell.
3. “Johnny & June” By Heidi Newfield
It’s widely cited as the greatest love story in country music. Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash are the subject of Newfield’s first solo single after leaving Trick Pony. A sentiment that is no stranger to music — Jessica Simpson has a line “I could’ve been your June Carter Cash…” and Katy Perry sings “I was June and you were my Johnny Cash…” — but Newfield gives line by line examples to explain the reason their love story is worth emulating.
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