Big River (Johnny Cash song)

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"Big River"
Single by Johnny Cash
from the album Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous
Released March 1958
Genre Rock and roll, rockabilly, country
Length 2:35
Label Sun
Writer(s) Johnny Cash
Producer(s) Sam Phillips, Jack Clement
Johnny Cash singles chronology
"Ballad of a Teenage Queen"
"Big River"
"Guess Things Happen That Way"

"Big River" is a song written and originally recorded by Johnny Cash. Released as a single by Sun Records in 1958, it went as high as #4 on the Billboard country music charts and stayed on the charts for 14 weeks.[1] A verse omitted from the original recording was later performed during Johnny Cash's live performances.[2] A demo recording from the Sun sessions featuring the omitted verse also exists and has been released on numerous Sun compilations.

Cover versions[edit]

Delbert McClinton performed the song on a couple of albums. Ian Tyson (of Ian and Sylvia) included a spirited version of Big River on the duo's "Lovin' Sound" album released in 1967, with David Rae on lead guitar. The Grateful Dead played a cover version of this song in 396 live performances.[3] It appears on many of their concert recordings, such as Dick's Picks Volume 1 (Grateful Dead Records). It was also included in a 2003 tribute to Johnny Cash, Johnny's Blues: A Tribute To Johnny Cash (Northern Blues), in a version by Colin Linden. Trick Pony recorded a version of Big River with Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings on their debut album. Australian band Cold Chisel included a live version of the song on their 2003 Ringside reunion tour and DVD. Hank Williams Jr. covered this song on his 1970 album; Singing My Songs - Johnny Cash, which contains exclusively songs by Johnny Cash. The Secret Sisters also recorded a version of the song in 2011, with Jack White playing backing guitar.[4] Bob Dylan and The Band also recorded two takes of the song in 1967 during The Basement Tapes sessions. They were officially released November 4, 2014 on The Bootleg Series Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes Complete. Johnny Cash was featured in a cover performed by The Highwaymen, a country supergroup featuring Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson. This cover is slightly more upbeat, skewing to "Outlaw Country," and featured the verse Cash omitted when he first recorded the song for Sun (Jennings sang the verse on the studio recording and in live performances, which allowed each member of the group to sing a verse). Tim Armstrong covered the song in 2012 during his Guitar Center session. Roseanne Cash did a cover of her dad's song on her 1980 album "Right or Wrong".

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1958) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 4
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 14

Song information[edit]


External links[edit]