At the helm of Nick Cave, the Mercy Seat is one of single greatest songs ever written. Cave's morbid brilliance, and intense delivery is something that no one in the world can parallel. But of course, Cash comes ever so close, as a man notorious for singing in and about prisons.
I don't have anything against Depeche Mode. In fact, they're pretty fucking great, although not really my thing. Johnny Cash's cover of Personal Jesus is just about as good as it gets.
Although originally by Kris Kristofferson, it was Janis Joplin who did the finest version of this song, in my eyes. For me, Janis was one of the most underrated and talented musicians of the 1960's, with much more lyrical prowess than Hendrix and much more charisma than Jim Morrison (both of whom she died in the same year as, whilst they were all 27). Johnny Cash's version of this is another classic cover that isn't quite as great as the original, but is ever so close to it.
This is a version of Redemption song that I just adore. Whilst it's one of the greatest reggae, and in fact greatest protest songs ever written, this is a version sung by two of the most influential, beautiful people in music, Cash and Strummer. R.I.P to the three of them...
This one's really a very stunning, stripped back version of another U2 track. Naturally, the aging Cash adds nothing but the utmost passion to the song. I can't really stomach the sheer amount of Bono on the original, but as with Hurt, Cash adds an extra dimension. One of the best Cash covers.
Forever Young (originally by Bob Dylan)
Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash were firm friends, and Cash did a number of excellent cover versions of Dylan's work. The song, Forever Young was originally on Dylan's Planet Waves, and is done just as perfectly by Cash.
This is another song I've had to include because I personally love it to the moon and back. Neil Young is one of the most talented singer songwriters of his generation, and this song off of Harvest is really something special. But the Johnny Cash version is something very special too. Johnny's tone is much more sombre, but something that you can't fault.
Like the covers of Nick Cave and Janis Joplin, Cash could never improve on the perfection of this one. But unlike anyone else covering Tom Waits, Johnny finds a fantastic voice of his own when covering the gravelly voiced singer songwriter.
Whilst not really my thing, Bridge Over Troubled Water is quite simply a classic which needs no introduction. However, Johnny Cash's version is more than worth a listen, so here it is so you can make up your mind.
Someone once said 'once Johnny Cash covers your song, it's no longer your song', and words could not ring any truer.
(written by Calum Cashin)