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Cash's first Billboard hit was recorded at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis. It stayed on the charts for 43 weeks and sold 2 million copies. This episode reveals Johnny's early struggles to find his voice and how a mistake with his tape recorder inspired that catchy opening riff.
The song changes key several times so Cash hums between verses to find his pitch.
video imageJohnny Cash in handcuffs imageJohnny Cash's famous mugshot imageFilm promotional material imageHip-hop artist Yelawolf, series contributor
iTunes
One of the biggest hits of Cash's career stayed at #1 for 7 weeks. It was written by his future wife June Carter and first recorded by her sister Anita. In this episode, discover how a dream Cash had revealed a way for him to turn this love song into a monster hit.
June says the song is about how true love allowed her to battle Johnny's addictions to drugs and alcohol.
video imageJohnny Cash and wife June imageJohnny Cash at the Hollywood Bowl imageRay Charles and Johnny Cash imageMusic writer David Wild, series contributor
iTunes
Written by Broadway Legend Jerry Lieber, "Jackson" tells the story of a married couple trying to reignite their passion. Learn how the hit worked for Johnny and June in this episode. They were married one year after recording the song.
Cash proposed to June during a live performance. They were married one week later.
video imageJohnny Cash and wife June imageJohnny Cash and wife June imageMusician Shelby Lynn, series contributor
iTunes
Johnny Cash wasn't sure about this quirky tune so he tested it on a "captive audience" during his concert at San Quentin prison. The inmates loved it so much the song was included on the live album. This episode explores the real life inspiration for that troubled boy named Sue.
Cash had only read the lyrics twice before singing it at San Quentin Prison
video imageJohnny Cash at Folsom Prison imageNeil Diamond and Johnny Cash imageJohnny Cash in the studio imageMusician Ben Folds, series contributor
iTunes
Ovation's Original six part series Song by Song reveals the person behind the legend through a single signature song. Taken together, these "song stories" form a tapestry that reveals the drama of a life fully lived. Song by Song: Johnny Cash features never-before-seen interviews. Uncover the hidden stories behind Cash's greatest hits.
'I walk the line' was sort of ludicrous for him to say. He never walked any line. – Merle Haggard
video videoThe first in Ovation's new original series Song By Song videoJohn Carter Cash, Johnny's son, series contributor videoMusician Tom Petty, series contributor videoMusician Merle Haggard, series contributor
iTunes
The original hangover anthem was written and recorded by Kris Kristofferson in 1969. In this episode, Kris reveals why Cash wanted to cover this song that was already a hit and how Johnny came to perform it on the television show "Columbo".
Kristofferson was a Rhodes Scholar who attended Oxford University.
video imageJohnny Cash imageJohnny Cash on stage imageJohnny and Elvis imageCountry supergroup, The Highwaymen image4 image thumb caption here
iTunes
One of Cash's final and most unlikely hits. This painful ballad was written and first performed by superstar Trent Reznor. The Nine Inch Nails front man explains why he was reluctant to allow Johnny to record the song in this episode.
Cash passed away 7 months after releasing the video for "Hurt".
video imageTom Petty, Johnny Cash and Rick Rubin imageRolling Stone cover after Johnny's death imageMusician Grace Potter, series contributor imageMusician Josh Thompson, series contributor
iTunes