October 12

Story Behind the Song “Daddy Sang Bass” by Johnny Cash

Story Behind the Song “Daddy Sang Bass” by Johnny Cash 1

This song was written by rockabilly legend Carl Perkins, who was a member of Johnny Cash’s traveling show at the time. Perkins wrote it about the sing-a-longs that many families in the Bible Belt would have after a hard day’s work. He received permission from the Carter family to use the refrain of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken?” and incorporated it into the song. The other voices on the recording are June Carter Cash and the Statler Brothers, who were also members of Cash’s traveling show. The song went No 1 on the Billboard country chart for 6 weeks and spent a total of 19 weeks on the chart. The song was also released on the Columbia Records Hall of Fame Series. The record also was nominated in the CMA awards category of Single of the year the Country Music Association in 1969.

“Daddy Sang Bass” was Cash’s thirty-sixth entry on the pop charts and the last before his “A Boy Named Sue” became his first and only top ten hit there. No other act has ever started off a pop career with a longer such drought on the charts that was finally broken.The song appeared originally on the 1969 album The Holy Land, the 1971 Johnny Cash: Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 collections, the 1999 Johnny Cash greatest hits compilation 16 Biggest Hits, and 2002 The Essential Johnny Cash collection.

According to Johnny Cash’s book, The Man in Black, Carl Perkins was an alcoholic. Cash had been a drug addict who, by finding God, overcame those addictions, then helped Carl Perkins, who spent a lot of time on the road with Cash. Feeling inspired, Perkins wrote the song, “Daddy Sang Bass” in 1967. Cash says the line, “Me and little brother will join right in there” was written about Cash’s brother Jack, who died when they were both boys. In the song, the line is sung by Don Reid and Lew DeWitt of The Statler Brothers.

Carl Perkins also recorded the song for his 1969 Greatest Hits compilation album on Columbia Records, which became a Top 40 hit on the Billboard country album chart that year.


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