And It Burns, Burns, Burns

According to Rosanne Cash it’s a song “…about the transformative power of love and that’s what it has always meant to me.”  While Cash’s legendary father and his celebrated second wife surely nodded their heads in unison, as one might expect her head-shaking mother had a different tale to tell about “Ring of Fire.”

Born in 1932 and christened J. R. Cash because his parents couldn’t think of anything else, at the age of 18 the young Arkansawyer (native of Arkansas) went to enlist in the U.S. Air Force. Required to come up with an actual given name, the one he provided will forever be imprinted in the footnotes of Cold War (!) history.

Spending most of the following year in San Antonio to complete his basic and technical training, it wasn’t until the end of his stint in Texas that he met and fell hard for young Vivian Liberto at a local roller skating rink and had barely enough time for a few lovesick spins before deployment to Landsberg, Germany.

Assigned to the Air Force’s Security Service as a Radio Intercept Operator for Soviet transmissions, it was as Airman John R. Cash* that the future legend in black received his Cold War asterisk, when on March 5, 1953 he became the first American to learn of Joseph Stalin’s death after deciphering the Russian Morse code.

Within weeks of his honorable discharge, Cash married Liberto. And the 10,000 pages of love letters that had been exchanged during their long distance 1951-54 courtship would eventually prove a boon to the aggrieved first wife when it formed the basis of her late-life autobiography, “I Walked the Line: My Life with Johnny”.

The tell-all featured other observations as well of course, including the actual origin (and meaning) of today’s selection, which remained at Number One on the Country Charts for seven weeks in 1963 and would prove to be the biggest hit of Johnny Cash’s career…

“To this day, it confounds me to hear the elaborate details June told of writing that song for Johnny,” Liberto wrote.  “She didn’t write that song any more than I did. The truth is, Johnny wrote that song, while pilled up and drunk.”

With lyrics that ostensibly describe the agonies that can come with falling in love, Carter, who was going through that very experience at the time, claimed to have seen the phrase “Love is like a burning ring of fire,” underlined in one of her uncle’s books of Elizabethan poetry and sought the help of singer Merle Kilgore to help round it out.

Adversely, the embittered ex remained steadfast in her assertion that Cash gave Carter the co-writer status because “she needs the money,” and that the lyrics actually allude to “…a certain private female body part….All those years of her claiming she wrote it herself, and she probably never knew what the song was really about.”

The truth? Who knows, and with each passing season, who cares?  Originally recorded by June’s sister Anita as “(Love’s) Ring of Fire” it was featured as a “pick hit” in Billboard magazine.  But then Cash claimed to have a dream involving “Mexican horns” and told his future sister-in-law, “I’ll give you about five or six more months, and if you don’t hit with it, I’m gonna record it the way I feel it.”

  “…BOOM – CHICKA – BOOM…”

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Wednesday 3 October

Ring of Fire

 Love Is A Burning Thing

And It Makes A Fiery Ring

Bound By Wild Desire

I Fell Into A Ring Of Fire

I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire

I Went Down, Down, Down

And The Flames Went Higher

 And It Burns, Burns, Burns

The Ring Of Fire

The Ring Of Fire

 The Taste Of Love Is Sweet

When Hearts Like Ours Meet

I Fell For You Like A Child

Oh, But The Fire Went Wild

I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire

I Went Down, Down, Down

And The Flames Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns

The Ring Of Fire

The Ring Of Fire

 Love Is A Burning Thing

And It Makes A Fiery Ring

Bound By Wild Desire

I Fell Into A Ring Of Fire

 I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire

I Went Down (down), Down (down), Down (down)

And The Flames Went Higher Higher Higher

 I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire

I Went Down (down), Down (down), Down (down)

And The Flames Went Higher Higher Higher

And It Burns……..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s