Top 10 Johnny Cash Songs

Script written by Aaron Cameron. Born on February 26, 19032, Johnny Cash became one of the most influential and successful country artists ever. Though he also made music in rockabilly and gospel, the Man in Black made his biggest impact in the genre that originated in the Southern United States during the 1920s. He passed away in 2003. For this list, we’ve chosen our entries based on a combination of the artist’s fan favorites and their most commercially successful songs. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 Johnny Cash songs. Special thanks to our users Sam Ricketts, ramondo elderli, Charlie Rainger, happychaosofthenorth, Philip Folta, Justin Kennon, Al Bebak and Jack Morris for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Aaron Cameron.

He’s the Man in Black. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Johnny Cash songs.

For this list, we’ve chosen our entries based on a combination of the artist’s fan favorites and their most commercially successful songs.

#10: “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”
American V: A Hundred Highways (2006)

Although it was previously recorded by Elvis Presley and Moby, Rick Rubin’s stripped down production techniques and Johnny Cash’s distinct bass-baritone vocals made it seem like this traditional folk tune was made for him. Meanwhile, the celebrity-laden video, released three years after his death, was a testament to the wide-ranging scope of his fan-base and his lasting legacy.

#9: “Get Rhythm”
“I Walk the Line” single (1956)

Initially released as a B-side to his first number one “I Walk the Line,” this rockabilly tune proved to be a Billboard Hot Country top 40 hit when it was released on its own 13 years later. Passing on the sage advice of a shoeshine boy, “Get Rhythm” is an upbeat ditty about being, well, upbeat and serves as a quick snapshot of Southern city life in the 1950s.

#8: “Sunday Morning Coming Down”
The Johnny Cash Show (1970)

First recorded by Ray Stevens, this track soon became a Cash signature tune after then-janitor Kris Kristofferson landed a helicopter on the future Highwayman’s lawn and demanded he listen to his demo. Cash finally relented and ended up recording the song, eventually releasing it on a live album. It soon became a country number one and even a moderate pop crossover hit.

#7: “Man In Black”
Man in Black (1971)

In a sea of plaid shirts and Nudie suits, Johnny Cash stood out by not standing out at all. Although he may have worn other colors off-stage, his black wardrobe was as much a part of his character as his rich voice, Martin guitar and battles with addiction. Serving as his manifesto, this country classic didn’t only lay out exactly who Cash was and what he was about, but it also earned him a top 10 country single.

#6: “Hurt”
American IV: The Man Comes Around (2003)

Released a few months prior to his death, this unexpected Nine Inch Nails cover became Cash’s last hit during his lifetime. Juxtaposing the frail, elderly singer with images of the man in his prime, the accompanying video was transformed into a eulogy following his wife June Carter Cash’s death and then his own. “Hurt” has since earned high praise from both fans and critics, as well as from songwriter Trent Reznor himself.

#5: “Cocaine Blues”
At Folsom Prison (1968)

Recorded live at Folsom Prison at a time when he was rebounding from drug addictions, this western swing classic sees the Man in Black dipping into the prison well again and coming up a badass. Despite being written twenty years prior by Red Arnall, this version is unmistakably Cash with its outlaw narrator, drug references and gun violence. Edgy stuff for a man who originally billed himself as a gospel singer.

#4: “A Boy Named Sue”
At San Quentin (1969)

First recorded and performed at another prison show – this time at San Quentin – this country, talking blues and comedy tune was met with controversy for its use of the words “damn” and “son of a bitch.” Nonetheless, the jailbirds in the crowd loved it. And the American public did too once the censored version came out, as demonstrated by the fact that the track topped the country charts and reached number two on the pop charts.

#3: “Ring of Fire”
Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash (1963)

Written largely by Cash’s future second wife June, this two-and-a-half minute number stemmed directly from the burning passion building between the pair. And though it was first recorded and released by June’s sister Anita, it’s Cash’s horn-driven rendition that gave him another country chart-topper. Mixing country and rock and roll, “Ring of Fire” also was a Billboard Hot 100 top 20 smash.

#2: “Folsom Prison Blues”
With His Hot and Blue Guitar (1955)

With the Man in Black’s second single, the image, the myth, and the legend of Johnny Cash were born. In it, he tells his version of prison life and describes killing a man “just to watch him die.” The track’s mix of folk blues, country and rockabilly also established his signature “boom-chicka-boom” rhythm and put Cash firmly on the country music map.

Honorable Mentions

- “It Ain’t Me Babe” Orange Blossom Special (1965)
- “Highwayman” Highwayman (1985) by The Highwaymen
- “The Man Comes Around” American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)
- “Rusty Cage” Unchained (1996)

#1: “I Walk the Line”
“I Walk the Line” single (1956)

Taking our top spot is the song that made Johnny Cash a household name. In his first Billboard Hot 100 number one, Johnny astonishingly changes key multiple times while proclaiming his love for his wife at the time, Vivian. With its distinctive chord progression and fusion of country, rockabilly and rock and roll, “I Walk the Line” made music history by staying on the Billboard chart for almost 11 months. Thanks to its simplicity and narrative lyrics, it’s simply one of Cash’s best.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite Johnny Cash song? For more entertaining Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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