In 1956, Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line” ranked atop the Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart – his first No. 1 hit after three attempts with only moderate chart ratings. The song spent more than 43 weeks on the record charts, selling more than a whopping two million copies.
Written by Cash himself, “I Walk The Line” was the singer’s vow to always be faithful to his first wife, Vivian Liberto, as he spent most of his time on the road.
Cash and Liberto married in 1954, and the singer got a taste of temptation a year later when he earned a recording contract with Sun Records. After releasing two singles for the label, Johnny Cash found himself touring with the King of Pop, Elvis Presley – who was like a magnet to multitudes of female fans at each stop.
Cash wrote the song backstage one night in Gladewater, Texas, as a “pledge of devotion,” which turned out to be such a challenging promise to keep up. When “I Walk The Line” by Johnny Cash took off, the country singer quickly became a star and was swiftly immersed in distractions and vice.
While Liberto made an effort to keep the household together, the imminent divorce unfolded through the years. She filed for divorce in 1966, after just twelve years of marriage.
On one occasion, Cash has also explained the reason behind his eerie hum at the beginning of each verse, admitting that several people ask him why he’s doing it. The humming was actually necessary for Cash to get his pitch since it required him to change keys more than a few times while singing it.
“I Walk The Line” was one of Johnny Cash’s songs that were re-recorded four times throughout his career. You can listen to the song in the video below.