I am a fan of Johnny Cash and have been for a long time. He has written and covered a lot of songs in his lifetime and I have enjoyed just about every one of them. The question is; which are the 3 best Johnny Cash songs of all time? Here is my list.
I suggest that the top 3 are:
This song, from the American legend recordings, and written by Trent Reznor of the rock band, Nine Inch Nails, is accompanied by a powerful video. Created in the last year of Johnny’s life, the video shows the lines of time and great character in Johnny Cash’s face. The video received seven nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards and won for Best Cinematography. The image of Johnny, the man in black, in that video, will stand as the most powerful and lasting of his career. The lyrics tell the story of a drug addict who wishes he had time back and could start all over again. Johnny Cash had this opportunity in his own lifetime with the love of June Carter and his deep spirituality.
- Folsom Prison Blues
This song is probably the best known of all Johnny Cash songs. The opening riff is classic and one learned by the vast majority of country guitar virtuosos. The song also became famous because of the album that was recorded at Folsom Prison where Johnny gave one of his greatest performances. The song and the album helped revived Johnny’s career which was on a downward spiral at the time. He performed at other prisons including San Quentin and quickly became the most requested performer among inmates of US prisons. The qualities of a driven man haunted by complex morality and redemption would follow Johnny all of his life.
- I Walk the Line
It would be difficult to produce a collection of best Johnny Cash songs without including this classic. The posthumous movie of the same name stands as an honest portrayal of the life of Johnny Cash. His early years were troubled and Johnny often walked the line between failure and greatness. This song hit number 1 on the country charts and crossed over into the pop charts as well. Johnny was a man of many genres including folk, rock, country, blues, gospel and pop. He has, for his whole career, walked the line between all of those musical genres.
Whether or not you agree with my picks, there can be no argument that these are some of the best Johnny Cash country folk songs of all time. If you like country folk songs you might also like to check out Smokin’ Joe Wiseman He has covered traditional folk songs and writes his own. Click here to download a copy of his latest single for free.