October 29

Story Behind Johnny Cash Song, “Delia’s Gone”

Getting familiar with almost every song in a Johnny Cash music repertoire seemed to get odd sometimes most especially if you discover that it is not all rowdy like Folsom Prison Blues or not as life-changing as I Walk The Line. Once upon a time, Johnny Cash took a song and sang about the bloody murder of Delia Green, a teenager of African-American descent who was killed during the snowy night of Savannah, Georgia. In this sad and creepy ballad entitled ‘Delia’s Gone,’ Johnny Cash took the role of a cold-blooded killer and tried to harness the power of words to tell the story in a killer’s point of view- mirroring how the events unfolded and how the killer reflected after the act was committed.

Delia’s Gone, Johnny Cash

In 1900, a certain account of murder became infamous as 14-year old Delia Green was killed at exactly Christmas Day when Mose/Moses Houston, a teenage boy shot Delia dead. The newspaper reports that Delia and Mose had a sexual relationship and the latter was triggered off an argument.

In an interview with Mojo magazine, Johnny Cash recalled how the tragic story of murder inspired the said song:

‘Delia’s Gone’ is the Devil’s deed of daring,” said Cash. “We were talking about ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ – and ‘I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die’ – and I said, ‘I want another song like that.’ So Rick and I started listening and we found ‘Delia’s Gone.’ We realised I had recorded it in the ’60s, but not the way I’ve recorded it on American, and that I should work it up and do it over. So we started working on it and we did it and we came up with this version.”

Apart from Johnny Cash, there are other songs that were brought by that unfortunate event involving Delia Green. One is the 1928 folk song entitled, ‘Delia.’

The song was eerily haunting but makes a lot of artistic points. Listen below and let us know what you think:


Delia Green, Johnny Cash

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