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Tear Jerker / Johnny Cash

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This legendary country singer has a lot of moving songs.


  • His cover of the Nine Inch Nails song, "Hurt." The song is already quite bleak, but Cash's minimalist rendition, along with the meta-narrative of Cash being in his final years, adds a new degree of tragedy to the song. The author of the original song, Trent Reznor, stated that the cover version belongs solely to Cashnote . The music video featuring Cash's wife was completed just three months before she died. The video was filmed in the House of Cash museum, Johnny's home for 30 years which had started to fall into disrepair. After his death the museum was purchased by Barry Gibb who intended to restore the property... only for it to be completely destroyed in a fire in 2007.
    • The video is also pretty gut-wrenching. Especially when a picture of June appears on screen when Cash sings "everyone I know goes away in the end".
  • Don't forget Johnny Cash's version of Sting's "I Hung My Head". Much, much better and more poignant than the original.
  • His cover of Spain's "Spiritual". A person and/or band can create a tear-jerking song, but when you get Johnny Cash to cover such a song, it comes out as a more moving and powerful song.
  • His cover of Cat Stevens aka Yusuf Islam's "Father And Son" with Fiona Apple (not to be confused with another version with his stepdaughter Rosie Nix Adams called "Father And Daughter").
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    • Steven's version was like it was made for two people, a father and a son respectively, how the dad does not want the son to leave and how the son wants to go on his own. Cash's version tries to go for this, but if you ignore Fiona Apple's voice, it unintentionally sounds like a man trying to talk to his son before he dies.
  • His cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" with Joe Strummer.
  • His cover of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" with Nick Cave.
  • "Help Me"
  • His cover of Bonnie "Prince" Billy's "I See a Darkness" is heartbreaking.
  • Add "Love's Been Good to Me" (especially the video) and "Give My Love to Rose." Knowing both were recorded after June died makes them even sadder.
    • His cover of Hank Williams' "On The Evening Train" for the same reason.
  • Also, "If You Could Read My Mind" can leave one with a pouty lip and Puppy-Dog Eyes.
  • "Far Side Banks of Jordan":
    "I'll be waiting on the far-side banks of Jordan
    I'll be sitting, drawing pictures in the sand..."
    • The tear-jerking part, and the incredibly ironic part, is that the song is about what might happen should June die before Johnny. The song was first recorded by them in the early 1970s; no one could have imagined that 30 years later the scenario would play out in real life. As a result, though, fans of Johnny and June find it very difficult to listen to this song, almost on the same level as "Hurt".
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  • Then there is "Don't Take Your Guns to Town".
  • "Give My Love to Rose" and "Old Shep" Guaranteed to put tears in your eyes.
  • "We'll Meet Again" for the title alone. The whole song is very touching now. Notably, it was the last song he recorded on the last album released while he was alive.
    Keep smilin' through
    Just like you
    Always do
    'Til the blue skies drive
    The dark clouds
    Far away
    And will you please say hello
    To the folks that I know
    Tell 'em that I won't be long
    And they'll be happy to know
    That as you saw me go
    I was singing this song
  • His cover of "Desperado". Oh God, so much more poignant than the Eagles original:
    "Desperado, oh, you ain't getting no younger
    Your pain and your hunger, they're driving you home
    And freedom! Oh, freedom! Well, that's just some people talking...
    Your prison is walking... Through this world all alone."
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  • "In My Life".
  • "The Caretaker".
    "But who's gonna cry when old John dies
    Who's gonna cry when old John dies."
  • "A Singer of Songs".
  • The next-to-last verse of "The Legend of John Henry's Hammer" where John gives his hammer to his wife.
  • His cover of "Streets of Laredo". It's a song about the narrator meeting a dying young cowboy.
  • His version of "The Ballad of Ira Hayes."
  • "The Beast In Me".
  • "September When it Comes" was written by Johnny's daughter, Roseanne. They recorded this song together six months before Johnny passed away in September...
  • His death makes "The Man in Black" more than a little bittersweet when you hear the last lines "I'll carry off a little darkness on my back. 'Til things are brighter, I'm the man in black." and know that he never took it off before he died.
  • His Cover of "You Are My Sunshine"
  • As a complete album, with a few exceptions, the entirety of "The Man Comes Around" is a very sad album. "Hurt," "We'll Meet Again," "I Hung My Head," "Give My Love to Rose," etc. etc.
  • Pretty much all of Hundred Highways. It's pretty much his final reflections and goodbyes and fittingly enough closes with a re-recording of "Free From The Chain-Gang Now"
  • No love for "Redemption Day"? Makes the Sheryl Crow version just seem so average in comparison.
  • "Engine 143" was the very last song he recorded, less than three weeks before he died. This song had been a favourite which he'd listened to on the radio when he was a boy in Arkansas.
    • He'd almost totally lost his eyesight and he was in immense pain at this point, which can be heard in his voice. The last two lines (the last words he ever recorded) are especially poignant.
    "His face was covered up with blood;
    His eyes, they could not see
    And the very last words poor Georgie said were
    nearer, my God, to thee."
    • To add to this, he did not record the song for Rick Rubin. He recorded it as a favor to his own son, John Carter Cash, as John Carter was compiling a Carter Family tribute album and his father wanted to give him a song.
  • "Ain't No Grave", particularly the lines about meeting his parents in Heaven.
  • "Committed to Parkview" is a harrowing account of someone being committed to a hospital for either mental illness or addiction (which is not made clear). The descriptions of other patients, as well as The Reveal at the end that the narrator is himself a patient, makes for sobering listening. Ironically, this song debuted on the same album headlined by the comedy song "One Piece at a Time".
  • The protagonists of "Highwayman", eventually revealed to be the reincarnation of the same soul, all come to a tragic and painful end. While the first one is rightfully executed for his crimes, the other two are honest workers who die in tragic accidents.
    Highwayman: I was a highwayman/along the coachroads I did ride/sword and pistol by my side. Many a young maid lost her baubles to my trade/many a soldier lost his life's blood on my blade. The bastards hung me in the spring of '25/but I am still alive...
    Sailor: I was a sailor/I was born upon the tide. With the sea I did abide/I sailed a schooner 'round the horn of Mexico/I went aloft and furled the mainsail in a blow. And went the yard broke off they said that I got killed/but I am living still...''
    Mason: I was a dam builder/across the river deep and wide/where steel and water did collide - a place called Boulder on the wild Colorado/I slipped and fell into the wet concrete below. They buried me in that great tomb that knows no sound... but I am still around...
  • His cover of "Big Iron" by Marty Robbins (as the former was featured in Fallout: New Vegas) features a much more darker and melancholy, yet bittersweet tone than the original, in which according to a YouTube comment: It sounds like if the song's protagonist, the ranger, was in actual danger rather than believing he's going to win.

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