Johnny Cash would have turned 88 on February 26, 2020, but the world lost the music legend in 2003 due to complications from diabetes. Despite his absence, the Man in Black's iconic music, his pop culture legacy, and his profound impact on musicians can still be felt more than a decade and a half later.
During his 60+ years as one of the world's most beloved and prolific performers, Cash released an astounding 96 albums consisting of more than 1,500 songs. It's an achievement matched be very few of his fellow musicians, and one that's still admired today.
Between Cash covering some of his favorite artists to some of those artists covering their favorite Johnny Cash songs, we've assembled a list of our seven favorite Cash covers.
1 Bruce Springsteen - "Give My Love to Rose" (Johnny Cash)
Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash have a long history of covering each other's songs. While Cash's rendition of Springsteen's "Highway Patrolman" is solid entry into this discussion, we're partial to The Boss covering The Man in Black's "Give My Love to Rose."
2 Johnny Cash - "Hurt" (Nine Inch Nails)
The bulk of Cash's final albums were part of the six-album American series, produced by Rick Rubin. The LPs contain a handful of originals, but focuses primarily on covers. Perhaps the most famous of the covers in the series is the unexpected yet powerful take on Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt."
3 Volbeat - "Sad Man's Tongue" (Johnny Cash)
If Johnny Cash and Metallica ever created a supergroup, it would have been Volbeat. And of all their Cash covers, which all seem to work really well, this one is our favorite.
4 Johnny Cash - "In My Life" (The Beatles)
We're not really sure there could be a more iconic pairing in music history than Johnny Cash and the Beatles. The Fab Four are among the few who can even stand near Cash in music history. So, with this one, we're adding another cover from American IV: The Man Comes Around to our list.
5 Florence + The Machine & Josh Homme - "Jackson" (Johnny Cash)
In December 2011, English rockers Florence + The Machine recorded an acoustic, choir-backed episode of "MTV Unplugged." At one point, Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme joined Florence for a couple of duets, including a cover of the iconic duet between Cash and his wife June Carter.
6 U2 - "The Wanderer" (U2 featuring Johnny Cash)
One of the few U2 songs that Bono did not sing lead vocals on. In fact, he refused to do so, saying he always envisioned Cash singing it. U2 went on to perform it live at the 2005 tribute concert I Walk the Line: A Night for Johnny Cash.
7 Johnny Cash - "One" (U2)
Cash returned the favor seven years later on the third installment of his American series, American III: Solitary Man. It too featured some powerhouse covers. In addition to Cash's version of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" featuring Petty himself, the album's fourth track was a cover of a U2 classic.