From the soft subtle hum of Johnny Cash to the accompanying guitar that can only be described as steady as a train, sharp as a razor, I Walk The Line hooks you right off the bat with an unforgettable melodic experience. The song has been synonymous with the mere mention of Cash’s name, but there’s much more to it than what lies on the surface. At first listen you pick up quickly on the fact that Johnny is in love with a girl and is willing to do it all to get her. When we dive deeper into the story of Cash’s life the song becomes much more powerful.
Johnny Cash fell in love early on in his career with fellow musician June Carter, while both Cash and Carter were married respectively, an on again off again relationship started to form between the two. When Cash’s marriage ended he had already made up his mind that June Carter was the only woman he wanted to spend his life with. Battling his own inner demons as well as his love for a married woman, Cash turned to drugs and alcohol as a suppressant. From town to town, up and down the road playing countless shows Cash fell further and further down the hole of substance abuse. June Carter was forced to sit and watch as her dear friend and love interest systematically destroyed himself. All of these factors would culminate in June Carter finding Cash heavily intoxicated before a show and claiming that she didn’t want any part of the tour anymore due to Cash’s problems with Alcohol.
What follows is the creation of one of the most criminally overlooked songs ever written. Johnny Cash would go on to write “I Walk The Line” detailing his overwhelming feelings for June, claiming “because you’re mine, I walk the line”. This is not a metaphor about a tightrope or any other generic trope. This was a vow of sobriety. Cash’s claim is a reference to a field sobriety test where the intoxicated person in question must “walk the line”. Though not without trials and tribulations, Cash would eventually clean himself up with the help of his future wife, June Carter.