Johnny Cash’s five favourite country artists

In the late 1950s, Johnny Cash embarked on his musical journey by joining the esteemed Sun Records country roster. With his inaugural singles “Hey Porter” and “Cry! Cry! Cry!” in 1955, Cash began etching his name in the annals of music history, laying the groundwork for his iconic status with immortal hits like “I Walk the Line” and “Folsom Prison Blues,” both featured on his debut album, With His Hot and Blue Guitar, released in 1957.

As a burgeoning talent hailing from the heartland of America, Cash found himself traversing the country alongside luminaries such as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis, forming bonds that would shape his musical trajectory. Embracing the persona of the “Man in Black” and pioneering the tradition of prison gigs, Cash swiftly garnered a reputation as a formidable outlaw, his image burnished by a lifestyle marked by indulgence in drugs and alcohol, which occasionally led to brushes with the law during the early 1960s.

Throughout much of the tumultuous 1960s, Cash epitomized the quintessential rock ‘n’ roll hedonism, navigating personal struggles amidst a backdrop of musical success. His tumultuous marriage to Vivian Liberto reached its conclusion in 1966, marking a turning point as Cash earnestly pursued his muse, country star June Carter. It was in 1968, the year of his union with Carter and the triumphant return to the road, that Cash immortalized himself with the legendary Folsom Prison concert recordings.

The enduring bond between Cash and Carter endured until her passing in May 2003, after which Cash, who had battled frailty for over a decade, followed her just four months later. Though Cash bid farewell to the road in 1997, his creative flame continued to burn brightly in the studio. Notably, his turn-of-the-century albums, American III: Solitary Man and American IV: The Man Comes Around, captured the essence of his eclectic musical tastes through poignant covers of songs by Nine Inch Nails, Nick Cave, Neil Diamond, Depeche Mode, Paul Simon, and more.

These covers not only showcased Cash’s versatility but also provided a glimpse into his evolving musical palette. Despite the prevailing notion that musical preferences are often shaped during one’s formative years, Cash remained remarkably open-minded, with producer Rick Rubin playing a pivotal role in keeping Cash attuned to contemporary sounds.

In a revealing interview with Rolling Stone in 1994, Cash attributed his newfound appreciation for diverse music to an inward journey of self-discovery facilitated by Rubin’s guidance during their recording sessions. This exploration led Cash to embrace modern sounds, including Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails, underscoring his enduring relevance and adaptability in the ever-evolving landscape of music.

While Cash remained steadfast in his admiration for traditional country music stalwarts like George Jones, Jimmie Rodgers, and the Carter Family, he acknowledged the changing tides within the genre. As country music embraced electronic elements and visual spectacle, Cash found himself gravitating towards a broader musical spectrum, embracing the diversity of sounds and styles that resonated with him on a personal level.

Johnny Cash’s enduring legacy transcends genre boundaries, embodying the essence of musical authenticity and unwavering passion. His timeless music continues to inspire and resonate with audiences across generations, a testament to the enduring power of his artistic vision and unwavering dedication to his craft.

Johnny Cash’s favourite country artists:

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