The Man Wore Black: Five Awesome Johnny Cash Covers

Johnny Cash died eight years ago today.

Do you remember the first time you saw the video for "Hurt," the Nine Inch Nails song brilliantly interpreted by Johnny Cash on his album, American IV: When the Man Comes Around? I do.

The song and accompanying Mark Romanek film are beautiful. You may fault him for facilitating recent Weezer tragedies, but Rick Rubin will always have a place in my heart for his evocative, gorgeous, and tender work with Cash.

The records Cash made with Rubin are often remembered for the unique interpretations Cash recorded, songs from the likes of Depeche Mode, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Marley, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, and many more. But Cash himself as often been covered with great success. In honor of a dude who's still inspiring musicians, here are five killer Cash covers.

Social Distortion, "Ring of Fire" Social D. basically play Cash tunes with more distortion. Paying respect, here.

"The Ballad of Ira Hayes"- Townes Van Zandt from Randy Abel on Vimeo.

Townes Van Zandt, "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" Not technically a Cash cover -- it was written by Peter La Farge -- but Zandt's chilling, haunting version owes a lot to Cash.

Dwight Yoakam, "Understand Your Man" His jeans were tighter than Johnny's, but his heart's in the same place.

International Submarine Band, "Folsom Prison Blues" Early Gram Parsons stuff. He's got the high lonesome sound.

Ladyhawke, "Get Rhythm" Smoky voice, insistent tempo. Sunglasses. You got it.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.