Heavy Rotation 65: Man in Black Edition

March 6, 2011

[Featuring Johnny Cash and a host of co-conspirators, including Kissed Her Little Sister, Alabama 3, DJ Topcat (who brings along Eazy-E), and Apparat. Does not contain Social Distortion. If you’d like a track removed, please contact me at 2timegrime@gmail.com.]

Previous versions available here:
The Heavy Rotation Archives


Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the author of the Hardy Boys series, Franklin W. Dixon. First off: his name wasn’t Franklin W. Dixon. Secondly: he hated writing them. Thirdly: here’s some additional speculation about where the series could have gone, written by some half-assed “humor” blogger.

I bitch a lot about McSweeney’s but when they get it right, they fucking get it right. Bastards.

Looking for a new band name? Here’s 10,000 suggestions.

Johnny Cash – Johnny Yuma Theme.mp3

The Wild West as the Man in Black always imagines it: as violent as it is tragically romantic. The unjust are punished. The just endure tragedy. And behind every mysterious anti-hero is a woman who is doomed to be left behind, whether the man’s destination is Albuquerque or an early grave.

“If you done wrong
Better keep your back against the wall
Keep a loaded forty-four, man
Better watch that right hand”

Johnny Cash – Restless Kid (Demo).mp3

Pure JC. Gotta blow town. It’s as dead as the man in front of me. Don’t hassle me with questions. Or love. Always on the run. Too tired to live. Too restless to die.

“None of your business where I’ve been
Don’t ask me where I’m from
Run your ranch and punch your cows
And stay behind my gun”

Johnny Cash – Rusty Cage.mp3

From much later in his career. Listen in awe as JC self-assuredly hands Soundgarden’s ass to them. Easily one of the greatest covers ever recorded.

Kissed Her Little Sister – Cocaine.mp3

It’s hard to tell exactly what the fuck is going on here. Or why. But here’s the breakdown:

A Midnight Juggernauts-esque cover of Johnny Cash’s classic murder ballad, which is propelled by a heft Pink Floyd sample and some snippets of a very familiar cartoon theme song.

It’s hard to take it all seriously but random gadgetry aside, Kissed Her Little Sister kicks out a pleasantly menacing listen.

Alabama 3 – Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.mp3

Alt-techno-country-blues artists Alabama 3 know the best way to pay tribute to a legend. First off, spend a little time setting the stage by taking shots at today’s so-called “country” music, which has about as much in common with the genre Cash pioneered as MC Hammer does with gangster rap.

Once that’s out of the way, let his words do the talking. And by talking, I mean string together a list of song titles into a somewhat plausible narrative, delivering an homage via an extended in-joke. Give it a bit of down home twang and a dash of ricocheting electronics and voila, an instant classic that exudes nothing but straight up love for the Man in Black.

DJ Topcat – Folsom Prison Gangstaz (Eazy-E vs. Johnny Cash).mp3

Once again, a classic remains un-fucked-with as DJ Topcat envisions pioneering gangster rapper Eazy-E and pioneering icon Johnny Cash sitting side-by-side trading lines while awaiting their parole hearings. I’d have to imagine that if Cash was alive today, he’d approve. He’s always been a criminal deep down inside, one that never expected redemption but rather expressed gratitude when any light shone his way. Eazy-E may have been nothing but a rhyming thug, but his cocksure, ultra-laidback flow rides shotgun with the shuffle of Cash’s original as if predestined.


Behold. The missing Apparat remix:

Johnny Cash – I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow (Apparat Mix).mp3

The first unwritten rule of remixing is do not fuck with a classic. Apparat knows this, delivering a remix that’s respectful without being a simple, kiss ass-y minimal exercise. If anything, Apparat’s addition of distended beats and waves of reverb makes Cash sound lonelier than he’s ever been in his life. There’s somewhat of a breakdown towards the midsection that further amplifies the heartache lying between the words.



  1. Please, please, please…never, EVER fuck with Johnny Cash again. Thank you. TL.

    • 1. I, personally, fucked with him not at all.
      2. I, personally, don’t feel any of this is really “fucking” with the man.
      3. Fucked or not fucked, this is pretty much my complete collection of Johnny Cash-related tracks and remixes. I do have one more that I forgot to put in here and I’ll have that up tonight.
      4. Welcome back! I’ve missed your short temper and vicious tongue. Good to see you up and drinking again.

  2. Just smack me, Cap…I am deliriously EXCITED!!!!!!!!! Flailing extremities, adrenaline rush, bobble-heading and spring loaded…the whole megillah!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!! As you know, my tastes run toward rap and hip-hop, but I love Johnny Cash (and Hank, Waylon and Willie) with the same feverish intensity. I had the pleasure of meeting JC and his lovely wife, June. I remember being spellbound at how perfectly they complemented each other physically. What a handsome couple.

    So grateful you changed it up a bit and threw us a curveball. Totally wasn’t expecting this. Sonofabitch (!), this was frickin’ GOOD!! My favorite music post from you EV-A!

    Kissed Her Little Sister made me wish my brain was not already mush…I would have gladly relapsed over that song (and it would have been all YOUR fault).


    • Wow. Thanks for all the effusive compliments, elizabeth. I’m glad this hit you in all the right places. I love Johnny Cash and this just kind of came together as I was running down my list of tracks to heavily rotate.

      Come back in a day or two and I’ll have another one up. I mentioned it in the intro but completely forgot to post Apparat’s mix of “I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow.”

  3. Sedate Me has to admit that this does not fall into the realm of ‘twinkie music.’

    • If he doesn’t, then I’ll invite him to stare at the top photo of Cash until the point gets across.

  4. Personally, I’d like to see more Cash ‘fucked with’ and I can’t die until I hear a hip-hoppy version of something by Hank Williams (Gawd, that would make my day!!).

    • That sounds like a dare. I’m on the case.

      However, I should probably leave Cash alone for a bit. If TL gets too angry, he does nasty things to the furniture and carpet.

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