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Ring of Fire
Song

Ring of Fire

Johnny Cash
Album:
Ring of Fire The Best of Johnny Cash

Song Meaning and Background of Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash


June Carter came up with this song while driving around aimlessly one night, worried about Cash’s wild-man ways — and aware that she couldn’t resist him.


“There is no way to be in that kind of hell, no way to extinguish a flame that burns, burns, burns,” she wrote.


Not long after hearing June’s sister Anita’s take on the song, Cash had a dream that he was singing it with mariachi horns.


Cash’s version became one of his biggest hits and his marriage to June four years later helped save his life.


"Ring of Fire" is a song made popular by Johnny Cash when it appeared on his 1963 album Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash. Written by Cash's eventual second wife, June Carter Cash, and Merle Kilgore, it was originally recorded as "(Love's) Ring of Fire" by June's sister, Anita Carter, on her 1963 album Folk Songs Old and New.

 

Cash's version became one of the biggest hits of his career, staying at No. 1 on the country chart for seven weeks.


Carter had seen the phrase "Love is like a burning ring of fire" underlined in an Elizabethan poetry book owned by her uncle A. P. Carter.


She worked with Kilgore on writing a song inspired by this phrase as she had seen her uncle do in the past. She had written: "There is no way to be in that kind of hell, no way to extinguish a flame that burns, burns, burns".


The song was originally recorded by June's sister, Anita Carter, on her Mercury Records album Folk Songs Old and New in 1963 as "(Love's) Ring of Fire".


After hearing Anita's version, Cash claimed he had a dream where he heard the song accompanied by "Mexican horns".


The Mariachi horn sound had recently been popularized on American radio with 1962 hit song "The Lonely Bull" by Herb Alpert. Cash said, "[...] I'll give you about five or six more months, and if you don't hit with it, I'm gonna record it the way I feel it."


When the song failed to become a major hit for Anita, Cash recorded it his own way, adding the mariachi-style horns from his dream.


Lyrics of Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash


Love is a burning thing

And it makes a fiery ring

Bound by wild desire

I fell into a ring of fire

 

I fell into a burning ring of fire

I went down, down, down and the flames went higher

And it burns, burns, burns

The ring of fire, the ring of fire

 

I fell into a burning ring of fire

I went down, down, down and the flames went higher

And it burns, burns, burns

The ring of fire, the ring of fire

 

The taste of love is sweet

When hearts like ours meet

I fell for you like a child

Oh, but the fire went wild

 

I fell into a burning ring of fire

I went down, down, down and the flames went higher

And it burns, burns, burns

The ring of fire, the ring of fire

 

I fell into a burning ring of fire

I went down, down, down and the flames went higher

And it burns, burns, burns

The ring of fire, the ring of fire

 

And it burns, burns, burns

The ring of fire, the ring of fire

The ring of fire, the ring of fire...

 

Release Date

1963

Songwriter/s

June Carter, Merle Kilgore

Producer/s

Don Law

Label/s

Columbia Nashville

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