100 Quotes by Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash, often referred to as the "Man in Black," was an American singer-songwriter whose distinctive voice and emotionally charged performances made him an iconic figure in country music. Born in 1932, Cash's music blended elements of country, rock and roll, and gospel, resonating with diverse audiences. His deep, resonant baritone voice became a vehicle for storytelling, and his songs often touched on themes of love, redemption, and the struggles of the working class. Cash's hits like "Ring of Fire" and "I Walk the Line" showcased his talent for capturing human experiences through music. He gained further recognition through his collaborations with other artists, including the renowned "Highwaymen" supergroup. Cash's personal life, marked by battles with addiction and a strong sense of social justice, added complexity to his persona. His live performances in prisons and his advocacy for the rights of Native Americans and the poor reflected his deep empathy for those on the fringes of society. Cash's enduring legacy lies in his ability to communicate raw emotion through his music and his status as a cultural symbol of authenticity and resilience.

Johnny Cash Quotes

If you aren't gonna say exactly how and what you feel, you might as well not say anything at all.

Free Resource: A step-by-step blueprint to realize your dreams

There's no way around grief and loss: you can dodge all you want, but sooner or later you just have to go into it, through it, and, hopefully, come out the other side. The world you find there will never be the same as the world you left.

You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.

I love the freedoms we got in this country, I appreciate your freedom to burn your flag if you want to, but I really appreciate my right to bear arms so I can shoot you if you try to burn mine.

You have to be what you are. Whatever you are, you gotta be it.

Life is rough so you gotta be tough.

There's a lot of things blamed on me that never happened. But then, there's a lot of things that I did that I never got caught at.

Life and love go on, let the music play.

it's good to know who hates you and it is good to be hated by the right people

I learn from my mistakes. It’s a very painful way to learn, but without pain, the old saying is, there’s no gain.

Free Resource: Over 1000 smart goal ideas to inspire your life

I wore black because I liked it. I still do, and wearing it still means something to me. It's still my symbol of rebellion -- against a stagnant status quo, against our hypocritical houses of God, against people whose minds are closed to others' ideas.

There is a spiritual side to me that goes real deep, but I confess right up front that I'm the biggest sinner of them all.

Life and love go on, let the music play.

All your life, you will be faced with a choice. You can choose love or hate…I choose love.

Sometimes I am two people. Johnny is the nice one. Cash causes all the trouble. They fight.

Life is the question and life is the answer, and God is the reason and love is the way.

Burn my Flag and I will shoot you, but I'll shoot you with a lot of love, like a good American

No matter how much you've sinned, no matter how much you've stumbled, no matter how much you fall, no matter how far you've got from God, don't give up. You can still be redeemed. As someone says, keep the faith.

I love songs about horses, railroads, land, Judgment Day, family, hard times, whiskey, courtship, marriage, adultery, separation, murder, war, prison, rambling, damnation, home, salvation, death, pride, humor, piety, rebellion, patriotism, larceny, determination, tragedy, rowdiness, heartbreak and love. And Mother. And God.

Free Resource: A step-by-step process for healthier social media use

I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way.

A rose looks grey at midnight, but the flame is just asleep. And steel is strong because it knows the hammer and white heat.

You can ask the people around me. I don't give up. I don't give up. I don't give - and it's not out of frustration and desperation that I say I don't give up. I don't give up because I don't give up. I don't believe in it.

That was the big thing when I was growing up, singing on the radio. The extent of my dream was to sing on the radio station in Memphis. Even when I got out of the Air Force in 1954, I came right back to Memphis and started knocking on doors at the radio station.

We're all in this together if we're in it at all.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down, Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town, I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime, But is there because he's a victim of the times. I wear the black for those who never read

We'll all be equal under the grass, and God's got a heaven for country trash.

My father was a man of love. He always loved me to death. He worked hard in the fields, but my father never hit me. Never. I don't ever remember a really cross, unkind word from my father.

I'm not really concerned about boundaries. I just follow my conscience and my heart. Follow your heart. That's what I do. Compassion is something I have a lot of, because I've been through a lot of pain in my life. Anybody who has suffered a lot of pain has a lot of compassion.

The ones that you're calling wild are going to be the leaders in a little while.

Success is having to worry about every damn thing in the world, except money.

How well I have learned that there is no fence to sit on between heaven and hell. There is a deep, wide gulf, a chasm, and in that chasm is no place for any man.

It's like a novelist writing far out things. If it makes a point and makes sense, then people like to read that. But if it's off in left field and goes over the edge, you lose it. The same with musical talent, I think.

As sure as God made black and white, what's done in the dark will be brought to the light.

When God forgave me, I figured I'd better do it too.

You miss a lot of opportunities by making mistakes, but that's part of it: knowing that you're not shut out forever, and that there's a goal you still can reach.

I like to sit on the front porch of an old cabin I built in the woods and just listen to the birds; I like to fish in the pond and I always throw the fish back.

I have tried drugs and a little of everything else, and there is nothing in the world more soul-satisfying than having the kingdom of God building inside you and growing.

Until things are brighter.. I'm the man in black.

All your life, you will be faced with a choice. You can choose love positivity and gratitude that things aren't worse or hate negativity and bitterness that things aren't better ...I choose love positivity and gratitude that things aren't worse.

Jesus will not fail me, I shall not be moved.

The gospel of Christ must always be an open door with a welcome sign for all.

Six foot six he stood on the ground He weighed two hundred and thirty-five pounds But I saw that giant of a man brought down To his knees by love

The beast in me Is caged by frail and fragile bars.

A person knows when it just seems to feel right to them. Listen to your heart.

Happiness is being at peace, being with loved ones, being comfortable...but most of all, it's having those loved ones.

You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone.

People call me wild. Not really though, I'm not. I guess I've never been normal, not what you call Establishment. I'm country.

Those that have lived longer than us always have something to teach us, that we can take with us for the rest of our lives.

Loneliness is emptiness, but happiness is you.

When I'm gone I'll be remembered as the working man who put his point across with a right hand full of knuckles.

You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way.

Stop your ears and close your eyes and try to find the face of love.

I don't like it, but I guess things happen that way.

You're so heavenly minded, you're no earthly good.

Everything I have and everything I do is now given completely to Jesus Christ.

I read novels but I also read the Bible. And study it, you know? And the more I learn, the more excited I get.

The more I learn, the more excited I get.

Get rhythm when you get the blues.

I'm not bitter. Why should I be bitter? I'm thrilled to death with life.

When I was a baby, my mama told me son, always be a good boy, don't ever play with guns. But I shot a man in Reno.

I don't give up because I don't give up. I don't believe in it.

My arms are too short to box with God.

Because you're mine, I walk the line.

Love is a burning thing and it makes a firey ring.

When you sing, you pray twice.

Life is - the way God has given it to me was just a platter - a golden platter of life laid out there for me. It's been beautiful.

I start a lot more songs than I finish, because I realize when I get into them, they're no good. I don't throw them away, I just put them away, store them, get them out of sight.

It takes a real man to live for God-a lot more man than to live for the devil, you know? If you really want to live right these days, you gotta be tough.

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine I keep my eyes wide open all the time I keep the ends out for the tie that binds Because you're mine, I walk the line.

Death and hell are never full, and neither are men's eyes.

When I think about country music, I think about America.

I am not a Christian artist, I am an artist who is a Christian.

Creative people have to be fed from the divine source. I have to get fed. I had to get filled up in order to pour out.

The things that have always been important: to be a good man, to try to live my life the way God would have me, to turn it over to Him that His will might be worked in my life, to do my work without looking back, to give it all I've got, and to take pride in my work as an honest performer.

They're powerful, those songs. At times they've been my only way back, the only door out of the dark, bad places the black dog calls home.

Rick Rubin said, well, I don't know that we will sell records. He said, I would like you to go with me and sit in my living room with a guitar and two microphones and just sing to your heart's content everything you ever wanted to record. I said, that sounds good to me. So I did that. And day after day, three weeks, I sang for him.

I had a song called "Folsom Prison Blues" that was a hit just before "I Walk The Line." And the people in Texas heard about it at the state prison and got to writing me letters asking me to come down there. So I responded and then the warden called me and asked if I would come down and do a show for the prisoners in Texas.

The battle against the dark one and the clinging to the right one is what my life is about.

People ask me who is my favorite country artist. I say, you mean besides George Jones.

For you I know I'd even try to turn the tide.

Gospel music was the thing that inspired me as a child growing up on a cotton farm, where work was drudgery and it was so hard that when I was in the field I sang all the time. Usually gospel songs because they lifted me up above that black dirt.

I knew Bob Dylan was searching for the truth and had been for years. And anyone who Really wants the truth ends up at Jesus

Beneath the stains of time the feeling disappears, you are someone else I am still right here.

I'm thankful for the sea breeze that feels so good right now, and the scent of jasmine when the sun starts going down.

I'm very shy really. I spend a lot of time in my room alone reading or writing or watching television.

Inside the walls of a prison my body may be, but my Lord has set my soul free.

The beer and the wurst were wonderful, but I was dying to be back in the South, where the livin' was easy, where the fish were jumpin', where the cotton grew high.

I just hope and pray I can die with my boots on.

God Ain't no stained glass window, cause he never keeps his window closed.

Come on boys, you must listen unto me, lay off the whiskey and let that cocaine be.

All music comes from God.

I keep my eyes wide open all the time.

I'm thrilled to death with life.

Prisoners are the greatest audience that an entertainer can perform to.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down, Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town.

You've got a song you're singing from your gut, you want that audience to feel it in their gut. And you've got to make them think that you're one of them sitting out there with them too. They've got to be able to relate to what you're doing.

Every week, Dennis Day sang an old Irish folk song. And next day in the fields, I'd be singing that song if I was working in the fields.

My daddy left home when I was three and he didn't leave much to Ma and me, just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze.

I kept talking to my producers at Columbia about recording one of those [prison] shows. So we went into Folsom on February 11, 1968, and recorded a show live.

This business I'm in is different. It's special. The people around me feel like brothers and sisters. We hardly know each other, but we're that close; somehow there's been an immediate bonding between total strangers. We share each other's triumphs, and when one of us gets hurt, we all bleed - it's corny, I know, but it's true. I've never experienced anything like this before. It's great. It turns up the heat in life.

It's good to believe in yourself, but there are people out there who can make or break you.

Don't take voice lessons. Do it your way.

The fire and excitement may be gone now that we don't go out there and sing them anymore, but the ring of fire still burns around you and I, keeping our love hotter than a pepper sprout.

Deep in the heart of the infinite darkness, a tiny blue marble is spinning through space. Born in the splendor of God's holy vision, and sliding away like a tear down his face.

I've always explored various areas of society. And I love the young people. And I had an empathy for prisoners and did concerts for them back when I thought that it would make a difference - you know? - that they really were there to be rehabilitated.

Why me, Lord? What have I ever done to deserve even one of the blessings I've known? Why me, Lord? What did I ever do that was worth love from you and the kindness you've shown? Lord, help me, Jesus, I've wasted it so. Help me, Jesus. I know what I am. Now that I know that I've needed you so, help me, Jesus. My soul's in your hand.

Flesh and blood needs flesh and blood, and you're the one I need

Convicts are the best audience I ever played for.

If you're going to be a Christian, you're going to change. You're going to lose some old friends, not because you want to, but because you need to.

Help me, Jesus. I know what I am.

I knew I wanted to sing when I was a very small boy. When I was probably 4 years old. My mother played a guitar and I would sit with her and she would sing and I learned to sing along with her.

Everybody was wearing rhinestones, all those sparkly clothes, and cowboy boots. I decided to wear a black shirt and pants and see if I could get by with it. I did and I've worn black clothes ever since.

Some gal would giggle and I'd get red, and some guy'd laugh and I'd bust his head. I tell ya, life ain't easy for a boy named Sue.

I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.

[Sam Phillips] laughed at me. I just didn't like the way I Walk The Line sounded to me. I didn't know I sounded that way. And I didn't like it. I don't know. But he said let's give it a chance, and it was just a few days until - that's all it took to take off.

I expect my life to end pretty soon. You know, I'm 71 years old. I have great faith, though. I have unshakable faith.

If you have political convictions... keep 'em to yourself

If I'm anything, I'm not a singer but I'm a song stylist.

After about three lessons [my] voice teacher said, "Don't take voice lessons. Do it your way. You're a song stylist. Always do it your way."

I got really excited about it. But then we went into the studio and tried to record some with different musicians, and it didn't sound good. It didn't work. So we put together the album [Unchained] with just a guitar and myself.

I was wearing black clothes almost from the beginning. I feel comfortable in black. I felt like black looked good onstage, that it was attractive, so I started wearing it all the time.

Being rich means you get to worry about everything except money.

Sam Phillips always encouraged me to do it my way, to use whatever other influences I wanted, but never to copy...if there hadn't been a Sam Phillips, I might still be working in a cotton field.

I came to believe in a power much higher than I

When I was 17 - 16, my father and I cut wood all day long and I was swinging that crosscut saw and hauling wood.

That was American Recordings. I said, I like the name, maybe it'd be OK. So I said, I'd like to meet the guy [Rick Rubin ].I'd like for him to tell me what he can do with me that they're not doing now.

I could wrap myself in the warm cocoon of a song and go anywhere.

So we raise her up every morning, we take her down every night, we don't let her touch the ground and we fold her up right. On second thought, I do like to brag 'cause I'm mighty proud of the Ragged Old Flag.

San Quentin, may you rot and burn in hell. May your walls fall and may I live to tell.

God's the final judge for Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash too. That's solely in the hands of God.

It's all fleeting. As fame is fleeting, so are all the trappings of fame fleeting. The money, the clothes, the furniture.

You know, the man's best friend is his dog... if he's got nothing else.

God gives us life and takes us away as He sees fit.

I always loved those songs. And with my high tenor, I thought I was pretty good - you know? - almost as good as Dennis Day.

Gospel music is so ingrained into my bones. I can't do a concert without singing a gospel song. It's what I was raised on.

When I get an idea for a song it would gel in my mind for weeks or months, and then one day just like that, Ill write it.

― Johnny Cash Quotes

Reading is Smart. Applying is Smarter:  Apply

Chief Editor

Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

Actualize Your Potential
Get my simplified process for realizing dreams (The exact process that enabled me to achieve 100 life goals in 10 years)
Access my Start With WHY workbook for free, designed to guide you toward your purpose and the person you are meant to become
Align With Your Why
Elevate In Your Inbox
Get actionable insights, best practices, and wisdom you can apply — No hype, No fluff. Just practical ideas that might change your life.

Read The Art of Fully Living

There's no going back-once you embark on the journey you're meant to live, it's impossible to settle for anything less than your dreams.

Click here to learn more

Set Better Goals

Learn a better and smarter approach to setting and achieving goals. It's not just about what you want to achieve, but who you must become in the process.

Click here to learn more
Take The Free Test
Discover your areas for growth in just 5 minutes. Take the FREE self-evaluation test and pinpoint where to focus your efforts

Uplevel Your Game

Explore The Roadmaps

Access a self-paced online roadmap that turns big goals into realities, complete with daily study guides, actionable steps, and proven practices from the world's best minds
Reclaim your freedom, escape 9-5, and live the life you were meant to live — A self-paced roadmap with daily study guides, actionable steps, and proven practices
Join The Accelerator
Join a 10-week, personalized immersion that will accelerate your goal-attainment, elevate you to your next level, and turn your big dreams into reality.
Learn More
Thanks for reading. It makes a difference. A portion of all proceeds from our endeavors supports entrepreneurs in the developing world. View Impact...