Today we celebrate the god of modern country, Johnny Cash, who was born on this day in 1932. Mr. Cash is credited with both defining country music and easily crossing over into other genres, such as rock and gospel. Cash was also one of the first artists to perfect the "outlaw artist" image, and his prison concerts in the US (and Sweden) are still revolutionary. From his drug problems to his controversial affairs, Cash experienced all of the good and bad that comes with fame. And even though he tragically died of complications of diabetes (and possibly a broken heart) in 2003, his legacy lives on today. From Walk the Line to various Johnny Cash cover bands, his particular brand of rock-meets-country is alive and well today.
We want to honor the man in black with some of the greatest, weirdest, and most beautiful versions of his songs by other artists.
"Ring of Fire" — Blondie
Everyone loves the original "Ring of Fire," so it's very hard to find a cover that isn't simply a downgrade from the Johnny-and-June version. Blondie's version is so punked-out and powerful, though, that we almost forgot about the original. Her weird bark-squeak in the middle is especially... different.
"Walk the Line" — Leonard Nimoy
Oh my sweet tribbles, Spock did a cover of "Walk the Line," and it wasn't bad! Live long and prosper... and listen to this work of cross-genre magic.
"El Hombre de Negro (The Man in Black)" — Loquillo Y Trogloditas
There are also a number of Cash covers in other languages, but this Spanish cover of "The Man in Black" is one of the most endearing. Also, the lead singer reminds us a little of Eugene from Gogol Bordello, which is wonderful.
"It Ain't Me Babe" — The Turtles
This Johnny and June classic never needed an update, yet this version by The Turtles gives it a stylish '60s boyband revamp. If you can get through the tranquilizing first verse, the slightly growly chorus will make your day.
"Hurt" — Johnny Cash
No list of Cash covers would be complete without one sample from Johnny himself. Listen to this cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt," and you can easily pretend you're not listening to another dark Trent Resnor song, but a Johnny Cash original.