The 50 Most Essential Johnny Cash Quotes

Johnny Cash was born in Kingsland, Arkansas in February 26, 1932 to Carrie and Raymond Cash. He grew up in a poor farming community and escaped by joining the Air Force when he turned 18 in 1950. After his discharge from the military, he co-founded a band. Within a few years Johnny Cash and The Tennessee Two had scored a hit with Walk the Line and other hits.

Cash had a long history of substance abuse and it almost derailed his career in the 1960’s. His 1968 album Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (1968) helped put him back on track. Amongst his biggest hit records were “I Walk the Line”, “Ring of Fire” and “A Boy Named Sue.” In later years, Cash joined the country supergroup the Highwaymen and released a series of recordings with producer Rick Rubin.

After some years of poor health, Johny Cash  died of complications from diabetes on 12 September 2003. We assembled these quotes to honor his legacy.

Johnny Cash Quotes

  1. “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.” – Johnny Cash
  2. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before. It’s great. It turns up the heat in life.” – Johnny Cash
  3. “I’m not bitter. Why should I be bitter? I’m thrilled to death with life.” – Johnny Cash
  4. “However, neither he nor anyone else could have become the star Elvis was. Ain’t nobody like Elvis. Never was.” – Johnny Cash
  5. “Success is having to worry about every damn thing in the world, except money.” – Johnny Cash
  6. “All your life, you will be faced with a choice. You can choose love or hate…I choose love” – Johnny Cash
  7. “My arms are too short to box with God.” – Johnny Cash
  8. “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.” – Johnny Cash
  9. “I have tried drugs and a little of everything else, and there is nothing in the world more soul-satisfying than having the kingdom of God building inside you and growing.” – Johnny Cash
  10. “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.” – Johnny Cash
  11. “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.” – Johnny Cash
  12. 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.” – Johnny Cash
  13. “When it gets dark and everybody’s gone home and the lights are turned off, it’s just me and her.” – Johnny Cash
  14. “If this were a movie, I’d be the bad guy.” – Johnny Cash
  15. “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” – Johnny Cash
  16. “The world you find there will never be the same as the world you left.” – Johnny Cash
  17. “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.” – Johnny Cash
  18. “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone.” – Johnny Cash
  19. “We fell madly in love and we worked together all the time, toured together all the time, and when the tour was over, we both had to go home to other people. It hurt.” – Johnny Cash
  20. There’s no more simple life with simple choices for the young.” – Johnny Cash
  21. “There’s no way around grief and loss: you can dodge all you want, but sooner or later you just have to go into it, through it, and, hopefully, come out the other side.” – Johnny Cash
  22. “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.” – Johnny Cash
  23. “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.” – Johnny Cash
  24. “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.” – Johnny Cash
  25. “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.” – Johnny Cash
  26. “My children love me, but they don’t understand. And I got a woman who knows her man. Drive on, don’t mean nothin’, drive on” – Johnny Cash
  27. “It’s good to know who hates you, and it’s good to be hated by the right people.” – Johnny Cash
  28. “Truth, said the Master, cannot be hid. But he didn’t say slap it in the face of my kids.” – Johnny Cash
  29. “Flesh and blood needs flesh and blood, and you’re the one I need.” – Johnny Cash
  30. “Sometimes I am two people. Johnny is the nice one. Cash causes all the trouble. They fight.” – Johnny Cash
  31. “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.” – Johnny Cash
  32. “I love to go to the studio and stay there 10 or 12 hours a day. I love it. What is it? I don’t know. It’s life.” – Johnny Cash
  33. “it’s good to know who hates you and it is good to be hated by the right people” – Johnny Cash
  34. “That he would pause in his killing to go about the business of preparing for the living knowing that he will immediately return to the business of killing?” – Johnny Cash
  35. “I wear black because I’m comfortable in it. But then in the summertime when it’s hot I’m comfortable in light blue.” – Johnny Cash
  36. “You’ve got to know your limitations. I don’t know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren’t too many limitations, if I did it my way.” – Johnny Cash
  37. “People call me wild. Not really though, I’m not. I guess I’ve never been normal, not what you call establishment.” – Johnny Cash
  38. “For you I know I’d even try to turn the tide.” – Johnny Cash
  39. “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.” – Johnny Cash
  40. “Of emotions, of love, of breakup, of love and hate and death and dying, mama, apple pie, and the whole thing. It covers a lot of territory, country music does.” – Johnny Cash
  41. “Beneath the stains of time the feeling disappears, you are someone else I am still right here.” – Johnny Cash
  42. “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.” – Johnny Cash
  43. “The beast in me is caged by frail and fragile bars.” – Johnny Cash
  44. “Well, I’d love to wear a rainbow everyday, and tell the world that everything’s okay. But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back. ‘Til things are brighter, I’m the man in black.” – Johnny Cash
  45. “You’re so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good.” – Johnny Cash
  46. “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” – Johnny Cash
  47. “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.” – Johnny Cash
  48. “I don’t have Paul’s calling – I’m not out there being all things to all men to win them for Christ – but sometimes I can be a signpost.” – Johnny Cash
  49. “The only really frightening thing about Cinnamon Hill belongs in the realm of the living and serves to remind me that some of them – just a few of them, a tiny minority-are much more dangerous than all the dead put together.” – Johnny Cash
  50. “Sometimes I can sow a seed. And post-hole diggers and seed sowers are mighty important in the building of the Kingdom.” – Johnny Cash
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Johnny Cash Video – Hurt

This is one of Johnny’s most popular videos as he got popular again toward the end of his life.

He is covering the song Hurt from Nine Inch Nails. Quite a performance!

Related: Tom Waits Best Quotes

Image Credit: Self Scanned, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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