Gospel music was a big part of Johnny Cash's repertoire and legacy. He originally auditioned at Sun Records as a Gospel singer and throughout his life he released dozens of gospel songs and albums. Johnny Cash wrote spiritual books and narrated audio books of the New Testament. He even wrote, produced and starred in a movie with June called "Gospel Road: A Story of Jesus" which was released in 1973. Clearly the gospel was very significant to Johnny Cash and he recorded some great music as a result of this influence. In fact, he was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2011. So what are some of the best Johnny Cash gospel songs? Obviously, the answer will vary from person to person based on an individual's taste in music but what criteria would you use to determine your favorite? Does the song have a great beat? Maybe it has a catchy melody? Is it uplifting? Does the song really speak to you in a deep and profound manner? All of these would certainly contribute to a great gospel song. Here are some of my favorites with an explanation of what I like about each one:

Daddy Sang Bass - This is a song that was written by Carl Perkins for Johnny and is heavily influenced by the Carter Family classic "Will the Circle Be Unbroken (By and By)" which is a rework of the earlier standard "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" by Ada R. Habershon and Charles H. Gabriel. It has a great catchy beat to it and I love the way Carl took a traditional classic and modernized it even weaving part of the chorus into the song. It has a great message of family and the promise of reunion as some of us are called home before others. This song would not have been the same without Johnny singing it.

He Turned Water Into Wine - A song that deals directly with Jesus' first miracle of turning water into wine. I prefer the version of this song that was recorded live at San Quentin although it is really the message in this song that I like. While each verse deals with different and specific miracles that Jesus performed; the underlying point is that the first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding party. I personally believe that there is great significance in this being Jesus' first miracle and it reminds us, among other things; that it is okay to celebrate. Too many people, in my humble opinion, lose sight of the fact that it is okay to enjoy life's significant events. This song, written by Johnny Cash, beautifully reminds us of this fact.

The Old Account - Another traditional song that seems like it was written specifically for Johnny Cash. There are a couple of versions of this song that were released but, once again, I prefer the version from the Live at San Quentin album where he gives June Carter Cash and Carl Perkins each a turn singing a verse. This song was also included on the "God" album which is a collection of songs specifically selected by Johnny Cash as his favorite God related (Gospel) songs. This song has a great groove, a catchy chorus, wonderful harmonies, and a message that is basically what it is all about; the "list" for all of us is very long indeed but it was paid in full a long time ago.

These are my top three. What are yours? If you are not that familiar with Johnny's gospel music, then you are missing out on a great part of his collection that actually has significant meaning. I would encourage you to explore his gospel works and listen to what he has to say. It may just change your life!
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Would you believe me if I said I cannot choose a favorite? I tried and I could not do it only because I treasured every one of them. The same goes for all the other country and western songs. I just simply loved everyone of them. Every time I hear I hurt myself today I cry because it kind of fits my life and a lot of his song's seems like he was singing about me. With the death list being what it is makes George Jones song Whose gonna fill their shoes ring true.
Comment by edward beck -- On September 6, 2014, 7:44 pm




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