Johnny Cash was an American musician who is considered to be one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. He is known for his unique style of music which blended country, rock, and folk. His lyrics often contained themes of love, loss, and redemption. Cash was a prolific songwriter and recorded 97 albums during his lifetime.
The late, great Johnny Cash was known for his deep and resonant baritone voice, as well as his candid lyrics that often depicted the struggles of working-class Americans. He also had a profound impact on popular culture, appearing in films and television shows and collaborating with musicians from a variety of genres.
In honor of the Man in Black, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite Johnny Cash quotes. These are words of wisdom that will stay with you long after the last note has faded away.
Table of Contents
- Johnny Cash Quotes on Life
- Johnny Cash Quotes on Love
- Johnny Cash Quotes on Music, Songs and Writing
- Johnny Cash Quotes on God and Religion
- Johnny Cash Quotes from Songs
- Interesting Facts about Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash Quotes on Life
Success is having to worry about every damn thing in the world, except money.
Until things are brighter… I’m the man in black.
I’m not bitter. Why should I be bitter? I’m thrilled to death with life.
There’s a lot of things blamed on me that never happened. But then, there’s a lot of things that I did that I never got caught at.
If you aren’t gonna say exactly how and what you feel, you might as well not say anything at all.
It’s good to know who hates you and it is good to be hated by the right people.
You’ve got to know your limitations. I don’t know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was 12 years old. I found out that there weren’t too many limitations, if I did it my way.
Sometimes I am two people. Johnny is the nice one. Cash causes all the trouble. They fight.
You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.
You miss a lot of opportunities by making mistakes, but that’s part of it: knowing that you’re not shut out forever, and that there’s a goal you still can reach.
You have to be what you are. Whatever you are, you gotta be it.
I love the freedoms we got in this country, I appreciate your freedom to burn your flag if you want to, but I really appreciate my right to bear arms so I can shoot you if you try to burn mine.
You can ask the people around me. I don’t give up. I don’t give up. I don’t give – and it’s not out of frustration and desperation that I say I don’t give up. I don’t give up because I don’t give up. I don’t believe in it.
Trust gets you killed. Love gets you hurt. And being real gets you hated.
I learn from my mistakes. It’s a very painful way to learn, but without pain, the old saying is, there’s no gain.
Life is rough so you gotta be tough.
If this were a movie, I’d be the bad guy.
The beast in me Is caged by frail and fragile bars.
I wear black because I’m comfortable in it. But then in the summertime when it’s hot I’m comfortable in light blue.
If you don’t get outside every day, even for a minute, you have not appreciated what God has done. It makes you grateful for our surroundings, and it starts your day differently.
Johnny Cash Quotes on Love
Follow your heart. That’s what I do. Compassion is something I have a lot of, because I’ve been through a lot of pain in my life. Anybody who has suffered a lot of pain has a lot of compassion.
All your life, you will be faced with a choice. You can choose love or hate…I choose love.
Happiness is being at peace, being with loved ones, being comfortable… but most of all, it’s having those loved ones.
Johnny Cash Quotes on Music, Songs and Writing
They’re powerful, those songs. At times they’ve been my only way back, the only door out of the dark, bad places the black dog calls home.
I wore black because I liked it. I still do, and wearing it still means something to me. It’s still my symbol of rebellion against a stagnant status quo, against our hypocritical houses of God, against people whose minds are closed to others’ ideas.’
Life and love go on, let the music play.
I knew I wanted to sing when I was a very small boy. When I was probably four years old. My mother played a guitar and I would sit with her and she would sing and I learned to sing along with her.
I love songs about horses, railroads, land, Judgment Day, family, hard times, whiskey, courtship, marriage, adultery, separation, murder, war, prison, rambling, damnation, home, salvation, death, pride, humor, piety, rebellion, patriotism, larceny, determination, tragedy, rowdiness, heartbreak and love. And Mother. And God.
Everybody was wearing rhinestones, all those sparkly clothes, and cowboy boots. I decided to wear a black shirt and pants and see if I could get by with it. I did and I’ve worn black clothes ever since.
I love weather. I’m a connoisseur of weather. Wherever my travels take me, the first thing I do is turn on the weather channel and see what’s going on, what’s coming. I like to know about regional weather patterns, how storms are created in different altitudes, what kinds of clouds are forming or dissipating or blowing through, where the winds are coming from, where they’ve been. That’s not a passion everybody shares, I know, but I don’t believe there are any people on earth who, properly sheltered, don’t feel the peace inside a summer rain and the cleansing it brings, the renewal of the earth in its aftermath.
I took the easy way, and to an extent I regret that. Still, though, the way we did it was honest. We played it and sang it the way we felt it, and there’s a lot to be said for that.
The beer and the wurst were wonderful, but I was dying to be back in the South, where the livin’ was easy, where the fish were jumpin’, where the cotton grew high.
This business I’m in is different. It’s special. The people around me feel like brothers and sisters. We hardly know each other, but we’re that close; somehow there’s been an immediate bonding between total strangers. We share each other’s triumphs, and when one of us gets hurt, we all bleed – it’s corny, I know, but it’s true. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. It’s great. It turns up the heat in life.
You’ve got a song you’re singing from your gut, you want that audience to feel it in their gut. And you’ve got to make them think that you’re one of them sitting out there with them too. They’ve got to be able to relate to what you’re doing.
When I record somebody else’s song, I have to make it my own or it doesn’t feel right. I’ll say to myself, I wrote this and he doesn’t know it!
I start a lot more songs than I finish, because I realize when I get into them, they’re no good. I don’t throw them away, I just put them away, store them, get them out of sight.
The things that have always been important: to be a good man, to try to live my life the way God would have me, to turn it over to Him that His will might be worked in my life, to do my work without looking back, to give it all I’ve got, and to take pride in my work as an honest performer.
That was the big thing when I was growing up, singing on the radio. The extent of my dream was to sing on the radio station in Memphis. Even when I got out of the Air Force in 1954, I came right back to Memphis and started knocking on doors at the radio station.
Johnny Cash Quotes on God and Religion
God’s the final judge for Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash too. That’s solely in the hands of God
My arms are too short to box with God.
How well I have learned that there is no fence to sit on between heaven and hell. There is a deep, wide gulf, a chasm, and in that chasm is no place for any man.
I have tried drugs and a little of everything else, and there iss nothing in the world more soul-satisfying than having the kingdom of God building inside you and growing.
Life is the question and life is the answer, and God is the reason and love is the way.
There is a spiritual side to me that goes real deep, but I confess right up front that I’m the biggest sinner of them all.
The Master of Life’s been good to me. He has given me strength to face past illnesses, and victory in the face of defeat. He has given me life and joy where other saw oblivion.
I read novels but I also read the Bible. And study it, you know? And the more I learn, the more excited I get.
God gives us life and takes us away as He sees fit.
I am not a Christian artist; I am an artist who is a Christian.
No matter how much you’ve sinned, no matter how much you’ve stumbled, no matter how much you fall, no matter how far you’ve got from God, don’t give up. You can still be redeemed. As someone says, keep the faith.
Johnny Cash Quotes from Songs
When I was just a baby, my Mama told me, ‘Son, always be a good boy. Don’t ever play with guns’. But I shot a man in Reno, Just to watch him die. When I hear that whistle blowin’, I hang my head and cry.
Folsom Prison Blues, Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar! (1957)
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.
I Walk the Line, Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar! (1957)
Yeah, the ones that you’re calling wild, are going to be the leaders in a little while.
What Is Truth (1970)
The day you went away, I made myself a promise, that I’d soon forget the day we met. But something sure went wrong, for I’m so blue and lonely. I forgot, to remember, to forget.
I Forgot to Remember to Forget, Greatest! (1959)
I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down, Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town. I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime, but is there because he’s a victim of the times.
Man in Black, Man in Black (1971)
You’re so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good.
No Earthly Good, The Rambler (1977)
Money can’t buy back your youth when you’re old. A friend, when you’re lonely, or peace to your soul. The wealthiest person is a pauper at times, compared to the man with a satisfied mind.
A Satisfied Mind, Kill Bill Vol. 2 Original Soundtrack (2004)
Let me tell you, Mr. teacher when you say you’ll make me right, in five hundred years of fighting not one Indian turned white.
Drums, Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian (1964)
The beast in me is caged by frail and fragile bars.
The Beast in Me, American Recordings (1994)
Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand. Workin’ in the dark against your fellow man. But as sure as God made black and white, what’s down in the dark will be brought to the light.
God’s Gonna Cut You Down, American V: A Hundred Highways (2006)
Beneath the stains of time the feeling disappears, you are someone else, I am still right here.
Hurt, American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)
Flesh and blood needs flesh and blood, and you’re the one I need.
Flesh and Blood, I Walk the Line (1970)
Interesting Facts about Johnny Cash
Now, let’s get to know this great singer, musician and man by learning a few interesting facts about Johnny Cash.
- An Advice from a Vocal Coach – Johnny Cash was influenced by gospel songs, and even performed at times in school talent shows. His mother encouraged him, knowing what she was doing, playing the piano and guitar herself. With money she earned and collected, she even had Johnny take some voice lessons. However, the vocal coach advised Cash to quit the lessons, because he thought Cash had a unique voice and feared that more lessons could actually alter the way Cash sings. The vocal coach told Cash to never take lessons again and to not let anyone change the way he sings. That’s a true teacher, if you ask me.
- Intercepting Soviet Radio Transmissions – When Johnny Cash was 19 years old, back in 1950, he joined the Air Force and spent 3 years in Landsberg am Lech, Germany, where he deciphered messages in Morse code from radio transmissions that he intercepted from Soviet Union aircrafts. During his time there, he also purchased his first guitar which cost him $5, and also had his first band by the name of “the Landsberg Barbarians”. During his stay in Germany, he watched the Inside Folsom Prison documentary, which eventually inspired him to write his song Folsom Prison Blues.
- Johnny Cash is an Ordained Minister – Most of his life, Johnny Cash was a devout Christian and during the 1970s, he took Bible study courses at Christian International Bible College and later on became an ordained minister.
- He Even Wrote a Novel – Johnny Cash has published two autobiographies: Man in Black in 1975 and Cash: The Autobiography in 1997. However, in 1986 he also published a novel titled Man in White. The book follows the life as well as religious transformation of Paul the Apostle, but was not a success to say the least.
- A Tarantula Species Named After Him – Chris Hamilton in an arachnologist and in 2016, he decided to name a species of tarantula after the singer. There are two main reasons why this tarantula species was named after Johnny Cash. For starters, it was discovered around Folsom State Prison in California, and also because this tarantula was covered in black hair and that reminded Hamilton of Johnny Cash wearing black, being the man in black. At the end, he decided to name this species of tarantula “Aphonopelma johnnycashi.”