Johnny Cash and Alternative Rock
by Dan Weiss | July 18, 2013
The original alt rock ethos can be traced all the way back through Johnny Cash's catalog: an antihero singing about killing a man just to watch him die, being on the gallows himself, and wearing black for the fallen and disenfranchised. The path followed by everyone from Lou Reed to Nick Cave to Nirvana was forged by Cash first, and he has been embraced wholeheartedly by the alt rock world, most recently via the vocal similarities of Daughn Gibson, who released his own very good Me Moan last week. Gibson's record prompted us to take a look back at the many Cash tributes from alternative and punk bands (from Everlast's "Folsom Prison Blues" blending in Cypress Hill's "Insane in the Brain" scratch to Pearl Jam's reverent "25 Minutes to Go" and Social Distortion's punked-out "Ring of Fire"), as well as Cash's own seemingly incongruous covers: his famous version of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt," of course, but also Sheryl Crow's eerie "Redemption Day," Soundgarden's triumphant "Rusty Cage" and Beck's not-well-known "Rowboat."