Rodney Crowell Recalls Johnny Cash Saying ‘You’ve Some Damn Nerve’

‘I Walk the Line Revisited’ was released as a single in 1998. It was written by Rodney Crowell, Johnny Cash’s son-in-law. Cash also didn’t hesitate to accompany this fun song, which turned out to be quite a good piece. In his latest conversation with Rolling Stone, Crowell explained how this collaboration came about.

“It’s a true story: 1956, I was probably six, going fishing with my father and my grandfather in a creek in East Texas down a wagon-rut road in the piney woods,” the singer recalled. “I’m sitting in the backseat with my chin rested on the back of the bench seat and, suddenly, ‘I Walk the Line’ came on the radio.”

He continued, “I’ve always equated it to an alien abduction. It’s like that song came out of the radio and got me and took me off. I invented the narrative that once the song brought me back from the abduction, I was a songwriter. When I met Rosanne and I met John, and June, that experience came back to me. There it was, everything about the first time I heard that song.”

Rodney thought about this song almost all his life and finally came up with an idea. He noted, “I tinkered with it and wrote the verses. I wrote these really dumb lyrics. I could not come up with anything, and I gave up. The minute I did, I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll put his words in the chorus.’”

Cash’s first reaction to the track was pretty funny, “Rosanne and I had already split by then, but I called him, and I said, ‘Hey, man, we wrote a song!’ He said, ‘We did?’ I asked him to come to the studio, and what he thought was I had invited him to sing his version of ‘I Walk the Line.’ As I’m singing his words to my melody, I noticed his eyes had just gotten narrower, and he said, ‘Son, you got a lot of damn nerve changing my melody [laughs].”

Johnny Cash’s son-in-law Rodney Crowell fell in love and married Cash’s daughter Rosanne Cash in 1979. Crowell wrote the song after he and Rosanne had already finalized their divorce. Despite this, Johnny Cash was cooperative, as their relationship with his son-in-law was a fun one.

‘I Walk the Line Revisited’ tells the tale of a man who first heard Johnny Cash’s well-known song under the same title. The narrator then continues by saying that the song sounds just as good as it did the first time he heard it. He compares the music to masterpieces like Shakespeare’s works and the Mona Lisa picture.