Johnny Cash is one of my all time favorite musicians. Songs like Folsom Prison Blues, and I Walk the Line resonate across all styles of music to this day. For my money though, his best song was a love poem written by his soon to be wife, June Carter. I remember the first time I heard Ring of Fire. I was in the car with mi madre and mi hermana and we were driving up north to L.A. for some reason. I turned the radio to the legendary KROQ station and heard this great song by (another one of my favorites) Social Distortion. I had previously caught the tail end of the song and was stoked to hear it in its entirety. I turned the radio up and sang along, when my mom (so it seemed at the time) ruined the moment. “This is an old country song”. Screeeeeeeech. “No way” I replied. But mom assured me that it was an old country song, and she sang along. I knew my mom wasn’t a Social Distortion fan, so she must know what’s she was talking about. A few days later we were at the mall and I stopped in to the Wherehouse music (remember those?) and for the first time ever ventured into the country music section. There it was, Johnny Cash: Greatest Hits, right there at the start of the ‘C’s. I put on the headphones and scanned in the cd and for the first time heard the infamous horn riff that provides the memorable melody to what instantly became my favorite song. It was a few years before I told anybody that there was a country singer that I really liked. These were the grunge years, the ska years, and the punk years. I remember one day my friends were going through my cd collection and they laughed at this out of place country cd. We put it in the discman and cruised downtown seattle. I thought my music cred was gone, but my friends loved it too. I was floored. Pretty soon I started playing guitar, and with Ring of Fire being a simple GCD chord riff, it was first on my list of songs to learn. Over the years most of my friends have heard me play this, or at the very least know that I am a huge fan.
So why is this a big deal? I’m a music person. A large part of the reason that I am a music person is because of Johnny Cash. So thank you Johnny Cash. Thank you for providing me with a great soundtrack to my life. R.I.P.
One love, one heart.