The Sordid Story Behind the Johnny Cash Hit ‘Ring of Fire’

Johnny Cash performed several country music songs that are enduring classics and crossed over to the mainstream. He didn’t write all his hits, and “Folsom Prison Blues” set his bank account back $75,000 after a plagiarism lawsuit, but that doesn’t change the fact The Man in Black remains a country legend because of his tunes. One of Cash’s signature songs, “Ring of Fire,” comes with a twisting and sordid story that is song-worthy itself.

June Carter Cash (left) and Johnny Cash perform on 'The Johnny Cash Show" in 1969.
June Carter Cash (left) and Johnny Cash | ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

Johnny Cash didn’t earn a songwriting credit for ‘Ring of Fire’

Aside from Cash’s deep-throated baritone, “A Boy Named Sue” and “Ring of Fire” don’t have all that much in common. The former is a relatively simple country-folk storytelling narrative. The latter is a genre-bending country-latin tune whose mariachi horns might be the highlight. Cash didn’t write “A Boy Named Sue.” The same goes for “Ring of Fire.”

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