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Song Lyrics in German and English

Johnny Cash - The German Songs

“The Man in Black” in German

J Cash CD
Johnny Cash's “Man in Black International”
album contains German and Spanish
versions of his songs!

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Johnny Cash (1932-2003)
Following Johnny Cash's death in September 2003, there was a certain irony that a German record label is the only one to preserve the great country singer's entire Sun Records musical legacy on CD! This may be less of a surprise to those who know that American country music has long been popular in Germany.

German Connections
But the German connection for Johnny Cash doesn't end there. In 1950, Johnny Cash was stationed in Landsberg, Germany as a radio operator with the U.S. Air Force. While in Germany, his hearing was permanently damaged by a German girl who had playfully stuck a pencil in his left ear. But it was also in Germany that Cash bought his first guitar and put together his first band, the Landsberg Barbarians. (Events missing or only touched on briefly in the 2005 film Walk the Line. See the DVD below.)

1954 was a very eventful year for Cash. When he left the Air Force in 1954, Cash married Vivian Liberto, whom he had met in Texas during basic training. That same year the young musician auditioned for Sun Records and made his first recordings. His second single, "Cry! Cry! Cry!," reached the 14th spot in the Top 20 in 1955.

By 1959, the year he made his first recordings in German, Cash was a well-known pop and country music star. In 1965, CBS/Columbia released two German singles — on 45 rpm vinyl records — with four songs in German: “In Virginia”/“Wer kennt den Weg” and “Kleine Rosemarie”/“Besser so, Jenny Joe.” (The Beatles had done the same thing a few years before with two of their hit songs.) Those songs and others are featured on the German Bear Family label CD The Man in Black: The International Johnny Cash released in 2002. The CD album includes songs that Cash recorded in German and Spanish for the European market.

Cash's German pronunciation (phonetically guided) often has an American twang, but he's understandable and sometimes even sounds fairly authentic. (His Spanish is worse than his German.) He struggled only a little bit with these lines from “Wer kennt den Weg” (“I Walk the Line”):

Am allerschönsten war es doch zu Haus
Und doch zog's mich einst in die Welt hinaus
Und in der Ferne suchte ich mein Glück
Wer kennt den Weg, den Weg zurück?

  See more lyrics below.

Even in Germany, Cash's German recordings are virtually unknown today, but they offer an interesting glimpse into the singer's early years. It is a glimpse provided by a unique German recording label that has also preserved Johnny Cash's English-language songs.

G Gabriel CD

Gunter Gabriel (right) is also featured on the Johnny Cash “International” CD.

CD available from Bear Family Records.

Bear Family Records
Germany's Bear Family label has a reputation for high-quality box sets, all of which are beautifully packaged and well researched. Bear Family's five-CD box set Man In Black, Volume 1 contains all of Johnny Cash's Sun recording and some of his Columbia recordings. (In 1958 Cash switched from Sun to Columbia, where he stayed until 1986.) Bear Family's Man In Black, Volume 2 box set contains most of the rest of his Columbia recordings. In fact, Bear Family's The Man In Black series is presented in three separate box sets: Volume 1 - 1954-58 (5 CDs), Volume 2 - 1959-62 (5 CDs), and Volume 3 - 1963-69 (6 CDs). Although this is the most comprehensive overview of Cash's early career, with an impressive 427 songs, the entire box set series is an expensive purchase, even for die-hard Cash fans. But the “International” CD album is a reasonable alternative for those of us interested in Cash's German songs.

The Man in Black: The International Johnny Cash
Back in the early days of his long career, Johnny Cash recorded some of his hits in German. In this CD compilation with Gunter Gabriel, you can hear German versions of “Ring of Fire,” “I Walk the Line,” and other Cash hits. Includes German cover versions of Johnny Cash hits by Gunter Gabriel and other German artists — with printed lyrics. Audio CD. See track list below.

Johnny Cash Songs - in German

The following German versions of Johnny Cash songs, sung by Cash, are on the “International” CD album (which comes with printed lyrics for all of the songs):

 1. Wer kennt den Weg (I Walk the Line) - German and English lyrics
 2. Viel zu spät (I Got Stripes)
 3. Wo ist Zuhause, Mama (Five Feet High and Rising) - German and English lyrics
 4. In Virginia
 5. Kleine Rosmarie
 6. Besser so, Jenny-Joe

Also by Johnny Cash (in Spanish): El Matador, Fuego D' Amor (Ring of Fire)

Other songs (in German) sung by Gunter Gabriel and other German artists:

Gunter Gabriel: Das Johnny Cash Konzert, Der Mann hinterm Pflug (The Man in Black), Gitarre Marke Eigenbau (Tenn. Flat Top Box), Ich bleib auf Kurs (I Walk the Line), Folsom Prison Blues, Big River, Ein Stückchen pro Tag (One Piece at a Time), Ein Junge namens Susi (A Boy Named Sue), San Quentin, Ich werd gesucht (Wanted Man), Noch 20 Minuten zu geh'n (20 Minutes to Go).

More: Shel Silverstein - A Front Row Seat to Hear Ole Johnny Sing; Bruce Low - Die Colt Ballade (Don't Take Your Guns to Town); Kurt Stelly - Wo kommt denn bloß die Liebe her (I'd Still Be There); Jürgen Herbst - Mein Weg führt mich zu dir (Ring of Fire); Donald Wolf - Lass deinen Colt zu Haus, Bill (Don't Take Your Guns to Town); Ralf Bendix - Der große Treck nach Idaho (Ring of Fire)

BUY > Compare Prices for this CD (PriceGrabber)
BUY > The German Johnny Cash CD (Amazon.com)

DVD - Walk the Line, the 2005 film about Johnny and June Carter Cash, only briefly covers his time in Germany, but it's a must-have DVD for any true Johnny Cash fan.
DVD > Compare Prices - Walk the Line (widescreen)
DVD > Compare Prices - Walk the Line (2-disc Collector's Edition, widescreen)

WEB > Die Johnny Cash Story (Deutsch) - www.allcountry.de
WEB > Johnny Cash (English) - www.johnnycash.com
WEB > Walk the Line - Movie - 20th Century Fox
WEB > Bear Family Records

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