YMMV / Johnny Cash

  • Adaptation Displacement: Trent Reznor recounts the feeling at hearing Cash's rendition of Hurt as being like losing a girlfriend, since the song now belongs to Johnny Cash.
  • Archive Panic: 54 studio albums, plus thirteen collaborative albums, eleven gospel albums, nine live albums, four Christmas albums, two soundtrack albums and dozens of guest appearances on other songs. Want to take the easy way out and get a Greatest Hits album? There are 104. Go on, pick one.
  • Covered Up:
    • Believe it or not, Cash didn't write "Ring of Fire" or "A Boy Named Sue". The latter's true writer (and the first person to record it) may come as a shock to some—it was none other than Shel Silverstein. And the co-writer of Ring of Fire? His future wife, June Carter. In fact, it's often alleged that Carter wrote the song about her relationship with Cash, as both were married to other people at that point. Cash's version is, however, still a cover as June's sister Anita Carter was the first to record it.
    • Inverted with "Tennessee Flat Top Box". Cash's version went to #11 in the sixties, and his daughter, Rosanne, took a cover to #1 in 1988. Rosanne honestly didn't know that her father wrote the song at the time she recorded it. Not only did it become one of her signature songs, she performed it during a concert TV special paying tribute to her father after he died.
    • Of all people, Ray Stevens released "Sunday Morning Coming Down" before Johnny did.
    • His cover of the Nine Inch Nails song "Hurt", is also usually more recognized than the original, to the point where many books have incorrectly attributed "Hurt" to Cash and believe his recording is far older than its 2002 release. Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor wrote the song and recorded it in 1994. The confusion is mostly created by wrongheaded journalists who can't believe that Cash would record a song by an industrial band, when such covers were one of the main features of his American Recordings albums.
      • Even Trent Reznor acknowledges that Cash's version was like "I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn't mine anymore..." after hearing it for the first time. Considering many consider "Hurt" (and its accompanying music video) to be one of Cash's masterworks and one of the best recordings of the 2000s decade, it's doubtful he has much reason to complain about this.
    • Johnny's cover of Sheryl Crow's "Redemption Day" seems to be the more popular version.
    • "I Hung My Head" was originally Sting, but few people have even heard of the original.
    • "Cocaine Blues" is a case of Covering Up a Covered Up song. The original was recorded in 1947 by W.A. Nichols' Rhythm Aces, then Roy Hogsed had a country hit with it one year later.
    • Cash recorded a number of other songs you would not normally associate with this style, ranging from the Ray Charles classics "I Got a Woman" and "What'd I Say" in the 1960s to, of all things, the Depeche Mode song "Personal Jesus" not long before his death.
    • During the 1969-1971 run of The Johnny Cash Show on TV, Cash performed duets with many of his guests. Perhaps one of the most unexpected was his linking up with Tony Joe White to perform a surprisingly good version of White's original version of "Polk Salad Annie" (a song that is more closely associated with 1970s-era Elvis Presley).
    • "Streets of Laredo", recorded by Cash for one of his concept albums in the mid-1960s and a popular part of his TV show and live performances from the 1970s onward, is another example of a song that Cash made his own, despite it being a cover of a standard that had been recorded by many artists in the years before Cash did it, including his contemporary Marty Robbins.
    • "Delia's Gone" from the first American Recordings is the most famous version of the song today, covering up not only the long history of a ballad that stretches back almost a century with stops in the Southern United States and the Bahamas, but Cash's own 1962 version of the song.
  • Dork Age: 197194, the period between the end of The Johnny Cash Show and American Recordings. Cash did release some grade A material during this period, but between various religious pursuits on one hand, and occasional relapses into substance abuse on the other, he wasn't always focused on music and the quality of his recordings became more erratic.
    • "Chicken in Black"... what was he thinking?
      • Actually, "Chicken in Black" isn't as bad as "Allegheny", a 1972 recording where June Carter Cash does her best Yoko Ono impression, or the entirety of the 1975 album John R. Cash in which Cash was forced to abandon his traditional style and his usual musicians for an overproduced urban-country album backed by members of Elvis' Las Vegas band. At least on "Chicken in Black" Cash sounds like he's having fun, and a live recording exists on YouTube indicating audiences enjoyed the self-spoof as well. And to be honest, it's no less ridiculous than "A Boy Named Sue" or "One Piece at a Time", both comedy songs that were major hits for Cash.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Cash's many death-related songs took on new significance after his and June's own passing. Particular mention goes to "The Caretaker," about a man who tends to a cemetery. Originally written and recorded in 1959, Cash revisited it during the American sessions, and that version was released on the Unearthed box set shortly after his death.
    Who's gonna cry when old John dies?
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In "Katy Too", one of the many women Johnny is foolin' around with is... Sue!
  • Nightmare Fuel: The Last Note Nightmare at the end of "The Man Comes Around."
    • It was the shift to a tinny, scratchy "old-timey record" sound that made it so creepy- especially when the speaking stops and the scratching gets louder...
    • "25 Minutes to Go", which puts the listener in the shoes of someone counting down the minute before their execution.
  • Signature Song: Arguably it's "I Walk the Line," "Folsom Prison Blues," "Ring of Fire," or "Hurt."
    • "A Boy Named Sue" as well, and "God's Gonna Cut You Down" is on the fringe of being one.
    • Lest we forget; "Man in Black" (though it never really took as a signature song and wasn't performed very often by the time the 80s rolled around due in part to its dated lyrics referencing the Vietnam War).
    • When examining Cash's entire recorded output, the song he seemed to be most fond of was "I Still Miss Someone" as he recorded it in studio and on stage more frequently than any other song in his repertoire.