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Timberlane Spotlight: Interview by Vernell Hackett, American Songwriter




Johnny Cash says he usually writes maybe half of a song in one sitting, then goes back to it a second and third time to finish it. “If the song is there, it usually doesn’t take me very long to write,” he concludes. “When I start to write, I write enough to secure the idea and not forget it. Usually, the first lyrics I come up with are always the best, and I make sure they are down on paper because I start thinking about other lines and forget them. I make it a point that, no matter how inconvenient it might be, even if I’m in bed, I get a pen and paper and write it down so I don’t lose it.”


“Well, ‘I Walk the Line’ was a love song with three chords, ‘Ring of Fire’ also had three chords, and ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ was an up-tempo rockabilly prison song. I don’t know; there is no set formula, except that over the years, I have a theme I remember to remind myself –KISS – keep it simple stupid.”


Cash tries to remember that “the human being has a very delicate sense of like and dislike, and listeners have pretty well-heard everything. I come on trying not to offend or grate anyone incorrectly.”


Interview by

by Vernell Hackett, American Songwriter

Photo: Daily Herald

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