Hear Brian Eno’s Rarely-Heard Cover of the Johnny Cash Classic, “Ring of Fire”

“Ring of Fire” has been cov­ered many times and in many ways since John­ny Cash released it in 1963. But for all its recog­ni­tion as one of his sig­na­ture songs, Cash’s “Ring of Fire” is itself a cov­er — or anoth­er inter­pre­ta­tion, in any case, of a tune orig­i­nal­ly writ­ten by Cash’s wife June Carter and song­writer Mer­le Kil­go­re for June’s sis­ter, Ani­ta Carter. Though it made noth­ing like the mark Cash’s record­ing did, the orig­i­nal “Ring of Fire” has its appre­ci­a­tors, a group that may well include Bri­an Eno. Or at least one feels an affin­i­ty between Ani­ta Carter’s take on the song and Eno’s own, the lat­ter of which you can lis­ten to above.

Unlike­ly enough to begin with, in an artis­tic sense, the record­ing’s avail­abil­i­ty on the inter­net has saved it from near-com­plete obscu­ri­ty. “In 1990, Bri­an Eno and John Cale made a won­der­ful exper­i­men­tal pop/art rock record called Wrong Way Up, released by Warn­er Bros. Records,” writes Boing Boing’s David Pescovitz.

“At the time, the label would send out 7” records to alt.rock/college radio sta­tions to pro­mote their new releas­es. The pro­mo series, called Soil Sam­ples, fea­tured dif­fer­ent artists on each side of the record per­form­ing songs that weren’t includ­ed on their new albums.” Cale’s con­tri­bu­tion to the sam­ple was an instru­men­tal called “Shuf­fle Down to Wood­bridge,” and the flip side of this translu­cent-vinyl rar­i­ty fea­tured “Mer­ry Christ­mas” by the two-man Amer­i­cana group House of Freaks.

As the leg­end goes — for every sto­ry con­nect­ed with John­ny Cash becomes a leg­end — the idea for how to do “Ring of Fire” came to the Man in Black in a dream. The “Mex­i­can horns” that had risen up from his sub­con­scious “sound like they’ve stum­bled in from some­where else on the radio dial and are try­ing des­per­ate­ly not to fall over Cash’s stan­dard shave-and-a-hair­cut clomp­ing beat,” writes The Atlantic’s Noah Berlatsky. “Cash, for his part, turns in one of the most awk­ward vocals of his career.” And yet “all those ele­ments knock­ing against each oth­er,” he con­tin­ues “fit the song’s lyrics per­fect­ly.” Eno’s flow­ing, lan­guid, Mex­i­can-horn-free record­ing may sound more like the orig­i­nal “Ring of Fire” than any oth­er cov­er, but it also befits its artist, the man who pop­u­lar­ized ambi­ent music. Nei­ther Cash nor Eno sing like men espe­cial­ly sub­ject to “wild desire,” but what song isn’t enriched by a bit of coun­ter­point?

via Boing Boing

Relat­ed Con­tent:

John­ny Cash Sings “Man in Black” for the First Time, 1971

John­ny Cash & Joe Strum­mer Sing Bob Marley’s “Redemp­tion Song” (2002)

Inside the 1969 Bob Dylan-John­ny Cash Ses­sions

Watch John­ny Cash’s Poignant Final Inter­view & His Last Per­for­mance: “Death, Where Is Thy Sting?” (2003)

Bri­an Eno Lists the Ben­e­fits of Singing: A Long Life, Increased Intel­li­gence, and a Sound Civ­i­liza­tion

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

by | Permalink | Comments (3) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (3)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.