Johnny Cash – I Walk The Line

A signature song for Cash.

“I Walk the Line” was recorded at Sun Studios for Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. A 24-year-old Cash is said to have written the lyrics in just 20 minutes as the words about his then-wife, Vivian Liberto, flowed out of him.

Recorded in April 1956, Cash’s first #1 was sped up at the urging of Sun Studios owners Sam Phillips. Jack Clements, who worked with Cash, recalled: “I wasn’t impressed with Cash at first, because I like recordings with class… And Cash seemed rough, but ‘I Walk The line’ was a class recording.”

While performing the song on his TV show, Cash admitted that his eerie hum at the beginning of each verse was to get his pitch. The song required Cash to change keys several times while singing it.

Cash wanted to record the song at a much slower tempo, making it a ballad. Sam Phillips, encouraged him to speed up the track, it became the song that we remember.

Bob Dylan on the song: “It was different than anything else you had ever heard,” “A voice from the middle of the Earth.”

From Songfacts

One of his most famous songs, this song details Johnny Cash’s values and lifestyle. It is a promise to remain faithful to his first wife, Vivian, while he is on the road.

“Walk The Line” was the title of the 2005 Cash biopic, starring Joaquin Phoenix as Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter. 

Carl Perkins suggested the title “I Walk The Line” while on tour with Cash. 

A version by Megan Wyler and Adem Ilhan was used in popular Levi’s commercials that aired in 2006. 

On March 31, 1971, Cash closed out the finale of his television series The Johnny Cash Show with this song. The show had run since June 7, 1969, and drew a substantial audience, but was eliminated as part of the “rural purge” that cancelled many popular shows because they didn’t appeal to the younger generation of television viewers who were primarily concerned with things like the Vietnam War, rock and roll, and the Hippie counterculture.

The Voice contestant Craig Wayne Boyd reached #84 on the Hot 100 following a November 24, 2014 performance of the song on the show where he reinterpreted it as a slow, soulful ballad. It was the tune’s first appearance on the chart since Jaye P. Morgan’s cover reached #66 in 1960.

I Walk The LIne

I find it very, very easy to be true
I find myself alone when each day is through
Yes, I’ll admit that I’m a fool for you
Because you’re mine, I walk the line

As sure as night is dark and day is light
I keep you on my mind both day and night
And happiness I’ve known proves that it’s right
Because you’re mine, I walk the line

You’ve got a way to keep me on your side
You give me cause for love that I can’t hide
For you I know I’d even try to turn the tide
Because you’re mine, I walk the line

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you’re mine, I walk the line

Because you’re mine, I walk the line
Because you’re mine, I walk the line

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

18 thoughts on “Johnny Cash – I Walk The Line”

  1. One for the ages. I really enjoyed reading Cash’s biography as well.
    I loved how Dylan expressed hearing him.
    Joaquin seemed to do a good job in the movie portraying him.
    And those girl’s thigh slapping routine in the concert is ‘far-out’! Haha

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Imagine being that sophisticated of a songwriter at age 24. Johnny is one of the greatest of all time. In the Burns series when it talked about how they dropped Johnny from the label it was a painful shock to my system. After all he had given at that point to do him like that 😦

    Like

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