Most everyone knows of the song, "Ring of Fire". Unless you have lived under a rock your whole life, you only need to hear a few notes of the familiar mariachi trumpets and you not only immediately know the song, but you also start singing the chorus - "I fell into a burning Ring of Fire...". I would venture to guess that this isn't only limited to American's or even the Western World. While there may be a few remote cultures in the far corners of the world that might not have been lucky enough to hear Ring of Fire yet, the majority of people in metropolitan areas around the world know it and would immediately recognize the trumpets. It is one of those songs, and there are not that many of them, that have stood the test of time settling permanently into worldwide popular culture. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the release of Ring of Fire. Written by June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore, the song was originally released by Johnny Cash on April 19th, 1963 and was his biggest hit. It stayed on the number one charts for seven weeks. After 50 years, it's not unusual for any number one hit to still be heard on the radio, talked about from time to time, and maybe even covered by a modern popular artist as tribute to the original. These things could be true of any great song but "Ring of Fire" has gone on to achieve far more success than this. It is far more than just a great song; it is an epic song. Let's look at the long list of accomplishments for "Ring of Fire":

  • It has been covered countless times including versions by such notable artists as Eric Burdon & the Animals, Tom Jones, Alan Jackson, Dwight Yoakum, Lee Ann Womack, Olivia Newton-John, Frank Zappa, Social Distortion, Blondie, Adam Lambert, Britney Spears, and even The Folsom Prison Gang. The genres alone represented by this list of artists are enough to make your head spin.

  • Ranked #4 in CMT's 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music in 2003 and #87 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 Greatest Songs of All time

  • Theme to Broadway musical that opened in 2006

  • Used in numerous commercials throughout the years

  • Featured in several video games including Guitar Hero 5 and Rock Band
  • Appears in numerous movies including, the most recent appearance, Man of Steel in 2013

  • Continues to actively be played on the radio, 50 years after its original release

Happy Birthday Ring of Fire

I believe that "Ring of Fire" will be just as popular 50 years from now as it is today; only its list of accomplishments will be even longer on its Centennial Anniversary. Who knows what the world will be like in 2063? Today I'm confident that future generations will still recognize and love the infamous mariachi trumpets that made "Ring of Fire" a genre neutral staple of music lovers around the world. Go listen to it again and tell me if you don't agree: Ring of Fire.
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