Ever since Johnny Cash died in 2003, oftentimes I'll hear a new song and feel a twinge of sadness. "You know, I would've loved to have heard Johnny sing that one," I'll think.
And it's a shame that we never will. All we can do is imagine as best as we can what it might sound like.
I think a lot artists who love Cash and his music, at some point, find themselves writing a song with Johnny's gorgeous, wizened baritone in mind. I know I did (here's a link if you care to hear it—it's called "Ghost Town"
). Much more famously, Joe Strummer did. And I'm sure a lot of other artists did, too.
There are countless songs floating around out there that Cash might've put his indelible stamp on, had he made it just a few more years. Here are 10 of them...
1. Joe Strummer - "Long Shadow" (2003)
This is the tune I just mentioned. Strummer wrote it with with guitarist Smokey Hormel in tribute to Cash, and actually was able to play it for him before he died.
Singer David Berman's voice definitely owes a debt to Cash's. But even beyond the deep, booming delivery, the lyrics, phrasing, subject matter and thoughtful melancholy would've worked perfectly for Cash.
An excellent, introspective tune from Conor Oberst, about a soul-searching wanderer riding the rails.
4. Drive-By Truckers - "Bob" (2008)
A modern country classic from DBT's Mike Cooley, about an unapologetic outsider.
I always imagine Johnny singing this song to June. After she passed away, it wasn't long before he followed.