The Reason Johnny Cash Wrote A Song To Mock His Record Label

Johnny Cash is one of the most appreciated musicians globally who have a legacy never to fade away. Throughout his career spanning almost five decades, the singer and songwriter provided unforgettable songs with a vast discography to the world that subjected family, separation, heartbreak, and of course, love. With his signature black outfits and themes, fans gave him the nickname ‘The Man in Black.’

Towards the end of his life, he leaned toward more sorrowful songs that depicted themes like redemption. Slowly declining in health, he passed away in 2003. Cash’s inner reflection on his songs is undeniable, but he wasn’t always this emotionally impactful. In fact, in 1984, he decided to release a track to mock his record label and get fired.

The Song Johnny Cash Released To Make Fun Of His Record Label

Cash released the song ‘Chicken in Black’ in 1984 as a single and shot a video for it wearing a bright yellow suit and a blue cape, mocking his all-black image. The song reached number 45 on Billboard’s county chart, but the song’s lyrics were more interesting than Cash’s appearance as if that was possible.

His record label was Columbia back then, and as most artists go through, he went through disagreements with the company. They didn’t hear his wishes as much as he wanted them to. In addition, they weren’t promoting his music according to his desires. Hence, he decided to mock them by releasing ‘Chicken in Black,’ a parody song that he wrote to make the record label cut ties with him earlier than the contract.

Was Mocking Enough For Johnny Cash To Get Fired?

The plan worked, and Columbia cut him off as the lyrics depicted the company as awful. Cash was not shy to openly diss them by indicating that he makes them money while they trapped him to a 10-year-old contract and are ‘stupid.’ While he got what he wanted with the track, releasing this sort of music damaged Cash’s legacy, according to his daughter Rosanne.

About ‘Chicken in Black,’ here is what his daughter said:

“He was kind of mocking and dismantling his own legacy.”

Instead of creating top-notch songs that are inspiring to the world, the singer decided to make fun of the label by making fun of his legacy. However, he was still as respected and loved when he passed away. His fans also agree that even though he tried to make a bad song, he failed because everything he touches is beautiful.

You can listen to the song below to see the lyrics and his style.