Johnny Cash – Ring of Fire
Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire

Who Wrote Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire?

In order to truly appreciate Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, we must first point out that he did not write this fantastic song. It was written in 1962 by Johnny’s wife June Carter and an American songwriter named Merle Kilgore, who was Hank Williams Jr’s manager. If you’d like to hear a very sweet version of June singing this song, you can find it below. It features her trademark Autoharp playing. Lovely!

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Some Controversy

Although June Carter and Merle Kilgore were credited with writing Ring of Fire, Johnny Cash’s first wife Vivian wrote in her autobiography that she distinctly remembers Johnny boast that he wrote the song. He claimed he gave June Carter the writing credit because she “Needed the Money”, which was untrue. John had his sights on June romantically for a long time, as we have all seen in the movie “Walk the Line”.

A New Version

The first person to record Ring of Fire was neither Johnny Cash nor June Carter. It was June’s sister, Anita who recorded a slower tempo version in 1962. After hearing this ’62 version, Johnny Cash claims to have heard the song in a dream with Mariachi musicians playing along. In 1963, he recorded his version of Ring of Fire and it soared to #1 on the US Country Billboard charts. It remained at the top slot for 7 consecutive weeks!

Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire

Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire Lyrics

Love is a burning thing – And it makes a fiery ring
Bound by wild desire – I fell into a ring of fire

I fell into a burning Ring of Fire
I went down, down, down and the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns
The ring of fire, 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 went wild

I fell into a burning Ring of Fire
I went down, down, down and the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns
The ring of fire, the Ring of Fire

Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash – Live Version

Some Cool Facts About Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire

  • Ring of Fire ranked Number 4 on Country Music Television’s 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music
  • It sold more than 1.5 million digital downloads to date (and still growing)
  • In 2004, co-writer Merle Kilgore tried to license the song for use on a Preparation H commercial. June Carter’s estate fought to stop that from happening and won
  • Despite the songs ominous tones, it was written about the subject of falling deeply in love to the point of losing self-control. Falling into the ring of fire
  • Ring of Fire is played as a victory march after every home win of The Calgary Flames professional hockey team (NHL)
  • Ring of Fire has been covered by numerous artists, including Elvis Presley, Eric Burdon and the Animals, Cheryl Crow, and Alan Jackson.
  • The song was played at Johnny Cash’s funeral as a tribute to his contributions to music. It has been used in various TV shows, movies, and commercials, with one notable example being the opening credits for the movie, Walk the Line.
  • Despite its popularity, Ring of Fire was not a part of Johnny Cash’s setlist for many years. He only started performing it live again in the later years of his career.
Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire
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6 responses to “Johnny Cash – Ring of Fire”

  1. […] he felt that the writers had done all they could with the character. He also wanted Ralph and friends to go out on a high note. Remember, back then nobody had any clue about a thing called syndication […]

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  3. Michelle McMillen Avatar
    Michelle McMillen

    Johnny Cash has always been one of my favorite singers and this one of his favorite songs

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    Stan Wayne


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