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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Dork Age: 1971-1994, 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 is 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.
  • 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."
  • 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).
    • 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.