Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash
Ring of Fire has become the song that - for many reasons - defines the life and troubled times of the late, great Johnny Cash.
Typically of Cash, even its origins are contested. The official version is that the song was written by the woman who, four years later, would become his wife, June Carter, in 1963 while she was driving around worrying about his wild behaviour, whilst, at the same time, acknowledging the fact that she was irresistibly drawn to the charismatic Cash.
"There is no way to be in that kind of hell, no way to extinguish a flame that burns, burns, burns," she wrote, explaining one of the songs most memorable lines. She then completed the song with a long-time Cash collaborator Merle Kilgore.
This account has, however, been disputed by Cash’s first wife, Vivian Liberto, who says her ex-husband wrote it, but gave the credit to Carter because she “needed the money”.
"To this day, it confounds me to hear the elaborate details June told of writing that song for Johnny,” she wrote in her autobiography, called I Walked The Line. “She didn't write that song any more than I did. The truth is, Johnny wrote that song, while pilled up and drunk, about a certain private female body part. All those years of her claiming she wrote it herself, and she probably never knew what the song was really about. But I was the bigger fool."
Carter and Cash became one of country music’s great double acts in the following years.
Cash later admitted that marriage to Carter probably saved his life. Walk The Line became not just one of his greatest hits, but also the title of the biographical movie of his life, starring Joaquim Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon.
The song was listed at No 87 in the Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs of all time.
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