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Ring Of Fire by Johnny Cash

Album: Ring Of Fire - The Best Of Johnny CashReleased: 1963Charted:
17
  • This was written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore. Kilgore wrote several other Country hits, acted in a few movies, and became a manager for artists like Hank Williams. Kilgore was best man when Carter married Cash.
  • June Carter wrote the lyrics about her relationship with Johnny Cash. She felt being around Cash was like being in a "ring of fire." Cash was involved in drugs and had a very volatile lifestyle. When she wrote this, both June and Johnny were married, but they became singing partners and close friends. By 1967, Cash and Carter were single again and they got married in 1968. Johnny claimed that June saved his life by helping him get off drugs. June died in 2003 after 35 years of marriage to Johnny.
  • According to the Rolling Stone magazine's Top 500 Songs, June Carter wrote this song while driving around aimlessly one night, worried about Cash's wildman ways - and aware that she couldn't resist him. "There is no way to be in that kind of hell, no way to extinguish a flame that burns, burns, burns," she wrote. Not long after hearing June's sister Anita's take on the song, Cash had a dream that he was singing it with Mariachi horns. Cash's version became one of his biggest hits, and his marriage to June 4 years later helped save his life. The song was based on a poem Love's Ring Of Fire, and it was originally recorded in a more folksy manner by June Carter's sister, Anita, as "Love's Fiery Ring." Cash held back on his single to give her version a chance to chart. (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England)
  • In her autobiography I Walked the Line, Johnny Cash's first wife, Vivian Cash, denies that June Carter had any part in writing "Ring of Fire." In her words: "She didn't write that song any more than I did. The truth is, Johnny wrote that song, while pilled up and drunk, about a certain private female body part." (thanks, Keely - Bronx, NY)
  • In 2004, a company wanted to use this song to promote hemorrhoid-relief products. Kilgore thought it was funny and liked the idea - he sometimes made hemorrhoid jokes when introducing the song in concert. Cash's daughter, Rosanne, thought it would demean the song and refused to allow its use. She said, "The song is about the transformative power of love and that's what it has always meant to me and that's what it will always mean to the Cash children."
  • Popular cover versions of this song include a 1968 rendition by The Animals, which hit #35 in the UK, and a 1980 recording by Wall of Voodoo on their first album. Stan Ridgway of Wall of Voodoo told us: "I used to play Johnny Cash music as a teenager. I grew up with a lot of it. My dad had a big collection of Johnny Cash and all kinds of country western stuff. And as I got older I got into jazz and all kinds of stuff. There's good music, and there's not-so-good music. So a lot of the labels and things like that are really just that: labels.

    The song came about with me f--king around with this Moog synthesizer that we had that was brand new at that point. And out came this crazy kind of throbbing sound. And I knew that we needed to assign some sort of idea to it immediately or we'd lose the whole idea, we wouldn't know what was going on. So I had to think to myself, 'Quick, quick, what's a three-chord song that's a good song?' I thought, 'Ring of Fire.' So I sang it over that and then moved my hand and it kind of worked. We made a quick little demo of it, and from there it grew. I do think 'Ring of Fire' is an excellent cover."
  • DragonForce recorded a version for their 2014 Maximum Overload album, marking the first time the British power metallers had done a cover song. "Just before the last Australian tour, our manager suggested it might be interesting to do a cover for the next album, something we've always refused even to consider," said guitarist Sam Totman.

    "Because we had all had a couple beers every band member wrote down three songs each and we compared them all, just for a laugh," he continued." I wrote down 'Ring of Fire' by Johnny Cash, an idea which the rest of the band loved, so we've DragonForce-ized it!"
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Comments: 50

First of all... it's not true that Vivian was unloving & only interested in his money. she was stuck at home, raising FOUR kids while Johnny was out there killing himself with drugs & cheating on her with June. I think it's pretty expected and normal for her to feel bitter and sad after seeing how the man she loved abandoned her for another woman. it's ridiculous to say that Vivian was jealous of Johnny's "friendship" with June - OF COURSE she was jealous, they were having an affair!

& it's pathetic how people say she was rude or unloving towards Johnny - as if that justifies Johnny cheating on her & humiliating her; not to mention how it was not true at all and it was confirmed by Johnny's band-mates and his children that Vivian loved him her entire life. but... unfortunately... Johnny didn't want her love simply because she wasn't his soul - mate = June was. so it's unfair to paint Vivian as a villain (like they did in a movie) just because Johnny fell out of love with her - and it wasn't even her fault! she simply wasn't the person Johnny wanted that love from.

as far as the song goes - the song ks about June & Cash's affair and the hurt of them having to go home to their spouses because they were MADLY in love but couldn't be with each other.

also, Cash wrote it - not June. this was also confirmed by various sources, not even his ex - wife but Curly, the man who was actually there when the song fot written. Cash had given up his writing credits because he didn't want Vivian to get royalties from that song during the divorce.
Hana - London, Uk
I think we can interpret the song in any way that gives it meaning to us. I think of an old flame that I still burn for... would love to play this for her.Jack - Sacramento
On January 23rd 1964, Johnny Cash performed "Ring of Fire" on the ABC-TV program 'The Jimmy Dean Show'...
Seven months earlier on May 25th, 1963 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on July 21st, 1963 it peaked at #17 (for 2 weeks) and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100...
And on the day it peaked on the Top 100 it reached #1 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart...
In 2010 Alan Jackson, with Lee Ann Womack, released a covered version of the song, it peaked at #45 on the Country Singles chart...
R.I.P. Mr. Cash (1932 - 2003).
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Merle Kilgore was a great and colorful entertainer and songwriter. I was proud to call him a friend. He knew everybody in the music business. He and J.R. Were very close. These two guys made their mark in music history and will never be forgotten... Rest in peace.Doc - Gatlinburg , Tn
I adore this song! I love the movie "Walk the Line" because Joaquin Phoenix sang this sooo good!Megan - Stevenson, Al
Ok truth is June Carter Cash wrote the song Ring of Fire. As for his ex wife's comments about it, total sour grapes. Vivienne was too busy being a stay at home mom and was never interested in johnny's career except for the money. She ended up being a controlling woman. She was bitter and unloving in the end and jealous of his friendship with june. He was a better man for divorcing her then later marrying june. R.I.P. Johnny and june. Heaven is lucky to have you two up there singing your music.Eva - Las Vegas, Nv
Bruce Springsteen, who always speaks highly of Johnny Cash, has sang this song twice in concerts. Once in 1974 in NJ and then in 2009 at the Sommett Center in Nashville...Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Wall of Voodoo did a cover of "Ring of Fire" on their self-titled 1980 debut album with Stan Ridgeway singing. Growing up with punk, rockabilly, and ska music, for years, Ridgeway's was the only version I knew. I knew the song was old, but it was only after I watched "Walk the Line" that I investigated the songs mysterious origins. Even though I heard "A Boy Named Sue" as a kid, it wasn't until Johnny Cash covered Nine Inch Nail's "Hurt" that I 'got' what an amazing (and versatile) musician his really was. Since then, I've listened to a LOT of his music. Wow!Chris - La Jolla, Ca
this song is about a vereneal disease (std's) he got. listen to the lyrics and it makes sense that the "ring of fire" is the place where it hurts. (and it burns, burns, burns the ring of fire [referring to the facts that it burns]... love is a burnin thing and it makes a fiery ring [referring to the fact that it was sexually transmitted])Richard - Fort Lauderdale, Fl
I think it's awesome that June Carter wrote this song, would letter become Johnny's wife.Theresa - Murfreesboro, Tn
This song is the greatest to listen to, even if you hate country.Jonathan - Paoli, In
I read the quote from Johnny Cash's ex-wife Vivian, and all I can say is that she sounds like she's very bitter after all these years.Farrah - Elon, Nc
strange mix of mariachi trumpets and Johnny's
wonderful voice.I love it!
Steve Dotstar - Los Angeles, Ca
My dad told me this song was about hemmoroids hahahaha (I know i spelt it wrong)Nady - Adelaide, Australia
I do believe, after reading Vivian's book, that Johnny actually wrote the song with Merle (while camping, fishing and getting high) and put it in June's name. (It IS more in line with the Cash songs of that period... as opposed to what June Carter was writing.) Why? As Johnny told Vivian, "Because June needed the money!" Kris Kristofferson said, "Johnny Cash is a walking, talking contradiction."Ric - Erskine, United Kingdom
"Ring Of Fire"was one of the first songs I remember learning to sing when I was a little shaver back there in the early 60's!!*(*I'm 49).
Now about Vivian Distin's Posthomous comments about June Carter not writing the song*(*She claims it was about June Carter's'Bearded Clam')
sounds like some very sour grapes!!

My Wife and I went to the Galaxy Drive in Theater in Ennis in November 2005 and saw
"Walk the Line"and we loved it!!

Reese was good as June but Jaquin Phoenix was Damned Good as Johnny!!He shoulda got the Oscar in 2006!!Not"Brokeback Mountain"!!
I loved his take on"Ring of Fire"!!
Kinda has a driving"Pyschobilly"feel to it!!
Also,check out Dwight Yoakum's version from 1987!!
John - Mansfield, Tx
this song was originally written and sung by June and her sister but later Johnny had a dream of him singing the song with a mariachi band so thats where the odd sound comes from. Great, great song.Chuckles - L.a, Ca
Even Coldplay did a cover of 'Ring of Fire' on their tour.Rik - Haarlem, Netherlands
Besides Social Distortion did also Dilana sing a rock/gothic version of the song.
Ray Charles took the song to the soul and blues when he did a cover of 'Ring of Fire' ( it's on the album 'Love countrystyle'). It's amazing what he did with the song. There is a video on YouTube of him performing the song in the Johnny Cash-show.
Rik - Haarlem, Netherlands
Frankly, I am disinclined to believe much of what Vivian wrote in her book. As for whether or not June wrote the song, I am more inclined to believe June who was actually a part of Johnny's life.Melanie - Martin, Tn
like country even though I have never been in the US, but this song goes well beyond country music, is an immortal song just like cashGaroud - Arica, Chile
ok well at least one person mentioned SD's cover. I agree it is good. RIP Johnny. Great music and i don't like country.Nicole - N/a, Wi
i love all of Johnny Cashes work!! love it, love it, love it!!!Afhhgfhj - Perth, Wa
fantastic artist, thanks to the film more people will get their eyes opened for this incredible manMarco - Luleå, Sweden
This song is the greatest song i have ever heard in my life. I listen to it once a day and if i forget i am depressed the whole day. I don't no what i would do without this song!Owen - Sturgeon Bay, Wi
Hey doesnt anybody know that june took the course was taken from a song that the Carter Family did in their earlier years. ya'll aint really johnny cash buffs are you? He was the ultimate American, and Ring of fire is one of the most known songs ever. and Phoenix did not do as good of a job as everyone says, but i give him credit, he was the closest you can get to the legend. As much as I love Reese, but when i bought Live At Folsom, and heard the Actual June Carter, I was thoroughly disappointed. was anyone else?Joe - Great Falls, Mt
It was also used in the Silent Hill movie, which rocked if you're into SH like me. Anyway, the song fit perfectly when the jukebox suddenly switched on.Ryan - Columbus, Oh
Johnny Cash has to be one of the greatest musicians in history. Let me put it this way;

I hate country with a passion, but I love Johnny Cash. If that isn't clear enough, you've gotta be blind.
Ryan - Columbus, Oh
The Joaquin Phoenix cover is great. He really made the song his own. I thought it was Johnny back from the dead when I saw walk the line!Gabe - Somewhere, Ma
You didn't make the connection? I always thought it was a Love Connection, and yeah, it was right. Jokes like that are just stupid.Kevin Quinn - Cmch, Nj
Ring of Fire

Love is a burnin' thing,
And it makes a fiery ring
Bound by wild desire --
I fell into a ring of fire.

I fell into a burnin' ring of fire --
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher,
And it burns, burn, burns,
The ring of fir, the ring of fire.

The taste of love is sweet
When hearts like ours meet.
I fell for you like a child --
Oh, but the fire ran wild.

I fell into a burnin' ring of fire --
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher,
And it burns, burn, burns,
The ring of fir, the ring of fire.

I fell into a burnin' ring of fire --
I went down, down, down,
And the flames went higher,
And it burns, burn, burns,
The ring of fir, the ring of fire.
Sonja - Salem, Or
I just watched Walk the Line. It was great.
My son, age 25, walked in when Ring of Fire was being sung by Joaquin Phoenix.
He told me something disturbing that I did not believe. I went on internet and found this site about Johnny Cash to see what I could find out.
My son was told by some people that this song was about injecting heroine. Now I can tell him that it is not true.
Linda - Auburn Hills, Mi
I heard a version recently on a Radio station in Ashville NC, and it was sung by the Carter family I think. It may have been just Anita Carter, but the anouncer said it was the carter family. Is anyone familiar with this version?Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
There's a version of this which Johnny sings in Spanish called "Fuego del Amor" (Fire of Love) His accent is horrible, but he's trying. If you're into spanish covers, check that one out!Kelly - Wilmington, De
great,great song. me and my wife walked into our wedding reception to this song.Tom - Mount Joy, Pa
To show how much June Carter loved Johnny, she wrote this song while Johnny was passed out at table at the fammed Tootsies in Nashville.Wooten - Nashville, Tn
I heard this song for the 1st time on a alternative radio station out of Chicago back in my late teens, but it was sung by Social Distortion. I fell in love with it and discovered a new band for my listening pleasure as well. It took some years before I found out that it was a Cash original. As I've aged I have gotten more into his music then when I was younger. Both versions are great in there own way though.Dee - Indianapolis, In
This song was also recorded by the Animals on their double album. Also on the album is "River Deep, Mountain High" and in it, Eric Burdon pays tribute to Tina Turner.David - Middletown, Ct
Social Distortion also covered this...very good cover too.Sam - Elkader, Ia
Burning Ring of fire has those amazing mexican trumpets. Its a catchy song with a tricky beat. If you can nail that beat you can sing the song. It s hard to perform because alot of people cannot play the beat. When I jump on stage with bands I never sing this song because it is to difficult to nail down right.Kevin - Canada, Canada
Bob Dylan did a cover of "Ring of Fire" on the "Feeling Minnesota" soundtrack. The fit is perfect. Bob was meant to sing this song in his unusual way, and likewise, this song needed to be played and sung by Bob. I love it. Find it. Listen to it.Steve - Fort Pierce, Fl
My friend told me the ring of fire is when you reach for the vasaline and accidentaly grab the icy hotAltcountrykid - Reno, Nv
One friend said he always thought that it was an ode to gonorrhea. Probably not, but it could be.Doug - Minneapolis, Mn
I once read a story that Johnny Cash accidently started a fire in the Sierra Nevada mountains due to something he shouldn't have been doing and that this song was written with that in mind and that the proceeds of the record went to pay a debt owed to the state of California for his fine.Mike - Berkeley, Ca
I'm glad it wasn't used for the commercial- Rosanne Cash is right, it would demean the song, and it's a great song.Kelly - Los Angeles, Ca
God Bless Johnny Cash. He was truly one of Americas greatest musicians. "A Boy Named Sue" made it easier for me to cope with my insane family.Dustin - Tampa, Fl
It was reported in my newspaper (Daily Mail 19/2/2004) the family of Johnny Cash has blocked an attempt by advertisers to use Ring Of Fire to promote haemorrhoid-relief products.
Merle Kilgore, who co-wrote the song with June Carter came up with the idea but Cash's daughter Rosanne has refused permission for the song to demeaned in such a manner!
Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England
I wish you had more of Johnny Cash's song lyrics. He's got some of the best. Any chance?

Reuben Schnaidt = therev@stellarnet.com
Reuben - Devils Lake, Nd
Too bad that he is dead now, he was one of the greatest.Ulrich - Aalborg, Denmark
I thought that it might have been about the the consequences of eating spicy foods...Mark - London, Ontario, Canada