G&G Exclusive

First Listen: John Prine Takes on Johnny Cash

A well-loved tribute to one of the Man in Black’s early classics

Photo: David McClister

Although they weren’t close friends, there was a deep admiration between the musicians Johnny Cash and John Prine. In his autobiography Cash, the Man in Black called out Prine as one of the few songwriters he would turn to for inspiration. And Prine, to his credit, even allowed Cash to change the lyrics to “Sam Stone,” his harrowing story of a combat veteran who became addicted to drugs. A man of deep faith, Cash asked Prine to change the second half of the song’s key line, “There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes / And Jesus Christ died for nothing, I suppose” to “Daddy must have hurt a lot back then, I suppose.”

“Johnny Cash was like Abraham Lincoln to me,” Prine says. “Every time I was in the same room as him, I’d pinch myself—he was a larger than life figure. It meant so much to me that he covered a few of my songs over the years.” But Prine had never recorded any covers of Cash songs until now. On Friday, February 9, Prine’s cover of Cash’s “The Ways of a Woman in Love” will appear as part of thirty new additions to the ongoing Amazon Originals playlist “Love Me” and “Love Me Not.” The collection of passion and heartbreak numbers includes originals and covers from the likes of Dan Auerbach, Marty Stuart, Sam Outlaw, and rising country star Jillian Jacqueline.

Cash’s original version was released in 1958 and the sound is emblematic of his early years of loping Western swing. Prine takes his version down to the studs, with just himself and a guitar, for an aching, intimate take. Covering Cash was a long time coming. “I’m happy to have had the opportunity to finally record one of his,” Prine says. “‘The Ways of a Woman in Love’ is one of my very favorite early Johnny Cash songs. I like the way the lyric talks about the character walking by the girl’s house and wishing he was the one in her arms.”

As an early Valentine’s Day present, Garden & Gun is thrilled to premiere Prine’s version of “The Ways of a Woman in Love” below.

Starting Friday, check out all of the new songs on both Amazon Originals playlists here.