September 23

Jerry Reed’s “A Thing Called Love” Played An Instrumental Role In The Careers Of Jimmy Dean And Johnny Cash

Jerry Reed, a tall, blonde country music singer, and guitarist with a knack for writing songs and playing good-humored Southern-type characters, has undeniably marked his name in the music and film industries. 

For starters, he was only 18 when record producer Bill Lowery signed him to cut his first record, “If the Good Lord’s Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise.” Then he got into Capitol Records, dubbed the new teenage sensation shortly after recording his rockabilly composition “When I Found You” in 1956. Two years later, he signed with National Recording Corporation, and success followed him. He earned himself a string of hits and even appeared in numerous films. In 2005, he was elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. And after his death, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

But did you know that Jerry Reed songs actually played an important role in the music careers of Jimmy Dean and Johnny Cash? Yes, you read that right. Jimmy Dean and Johnny Cash both covered Jerry Reed’s “A Thing Called Love” and made a bigger success out of the hit song, which in turn helped their careers rise even higher.

“A Thing Called Love”

Six foot six, he stood on the ground, weighed two hundred and thirty-five pounds, but I saw the giant of a man brought down to his knees by love. Who could ever forget this memorable intro verse from Jerry Reed’s “A Thing Called Love”? The track was penned by the singer himself and released as part of his 1968 album Nashville Underground. It is one of the best ones he ever wrote in his career. That’s why it was not surprising that various artists, including Jimmy Dean and Johnny Cash, covered this quality song.

Jimmy Dean Version

Jimmy Dean was a well-known name in the entertainment industry as a national TV personality, country music singer, and actor. His rise to fame was credited to his 1961 country music crossover hit into rock and roll titled “Big Bad John,” which then opened the door for him and created The Jimmy Dean Show in 1963. 

Then in the late ‘60s, he moved to RCA, and it was then that he recorded “A Thing Called Love.” He was the first to drive the song to the charts and become a major hit. Although the success of the song to many was still a product of Reed’s strong composition skills rather than Dean’s interpretation. Nevertheless, Dean gave the song the limelight that it deserved. 

Johnny Cash Version

Johnny Cash had already established his name in the industry when he recorded “A Thing Called Love” in 1971 as a single. The song reached number two on the country charts and became a number one country hit in Canada. It was also recorded as Cash’s biggest hit in Europe, placing in the charts of Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. In 1988, the country music artist re-recorded the song for his album Classic Cash: Hall of Fame Series. 

Truly, Jerry Reed’s “A Thing Called Love” helped Jimmy Dean and Johnny Cash’s musical careers to rise even higher, smashing the airwaves and the country charts with their own versions of this great song.


Jerry Reed, Jimmy Dean, Johnny Cash

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