Johnny Cash by Carolyn Tucker

I recently watched the iconic movie, “Walk the Line” depicting the early life of Johnny Cash. His career was successfully moving along and he began receiving large amounts of fan mail from the incarcerated. In my opinion, the best scene of the movie is when Cash pitches his unheard-of idea to the music executives. He expresses his fervent desire to perform a live-concert recording at California’s maximum-security penitentiary. During this meeting, one of the top execs said to Cash, “Your fans are church folk, Johnny — they‘re Christians. They don‘t want to hear you singing to a bunch of murderers and rapists trying to cheer ‘em up!” Cash replies, “Well, they’re not Christians then.”


Cash was thinking outside the box and from his heart and the music executives weren’t.  But The Man in Black was too gutsy to be dissuaded so the execs cut a deal with him. The legendary prison concert on January 13, 1968, was uncharted territory but made music history anyway. The album, “At Folsom Prison” skyrocketed his career and was one of the most-popular recordings of all time. The album received enthusiastic reviews, hit #1 on the country charts, and was certified triple platinum in 2003. The popularity from the Folsom concert prompted ABC to give Johnny Cash his own television show, which was also a huge success. I’m pleased as punch that the Christians in 1968 proved the music executives to be wrong. And I want to believe that the Christians in 2022 are going out on a limb to prove that they love people from all walks of life.


Cash’s Folsom Prison story reaffirms the Word of God.  Jesus spoke to His disciples and the crowds at length and said, “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited Me into your home. I was naked, and you gave Me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for Me. I was in prison, and you visited Me.‘ Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink? Or a stranger and show You hospitality? Or naked and give You clothing? When did we ever see You sick or in prison and visit You?‘ And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!‘” (Matthew 25:34-40 NLT).


Many times an unheard-of idea comes straight from the heart of God. And many times it’s met with boxed-in thinking and the dry-as-dust response: “We’ve never done it like that before, we don’t think it’ll work, and we don’t want to change it.” God is not locked into doing the same thing over and over again. “Behold, I will do a new thing…” (Isaiah 43:19 NKJV). As believers, we should want God to do a new thing in our hearts every day. Walking the line with God is not a humdrum experience! Our God is up to something new and good every day and we should live in unshakable expectation of His guidance and goodness. I challenge you to be gutsy and do what God has put on your heart. The world may consider it a harebrained and unheard-of idea, but what do they know, and who cares anyway?


The Key: Walk the line to avoid that burnin‘ ring of fire.

3 thoughts on “Johnny Cash by Carolyn Tucker”

  1. For me when I say you didn’t say anything about how his wife June Carter Cash. If I am not incorrect wasn’t she the religious woman who kept the children and the family together always standing beside him in all of the things. Women, drinking and the monkey that mucic men did all the great music men did even blues, rock and country greatest. I walk to the line was a law man turning in his head to have sex with the moonshiners underage daughter and in the end they laughed. June Carter Cash saved him burnin ring of fire. Forgive me. Kevin

  2. The term ‘walk the line refers to convict exercise yards (circa 1700’s to 1920’s).
    The prisoners had to walk around in a wide circle on a yellow (sometimes white) line painted on the ground for as long as exercise time permitted.
    If any prisoner went to far astray from the line he was punished.
    I would assume Johnny cash used this term in reference to his relationship in the song but I can assure you the saying predates the song by many, many years.
    The terms ‘walk the line’ and ‘walking the line’ can be found in Port Arthur (a tasmanian convict prison) documents dating back to 1874.

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