Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash are intrinsically linked with the love of music, The Boss fitting into the mould that The Man In Black forged out for the next generation of songwriters. Springsteen admired Cash because he made him believe that he could do it too and this iconic cover of ‘Give My Love To Rose’ is remarkable in every sense of the word.
Springsteen’s cover was part of an all-star evening in tribute to Cash in 1999 live from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York that was broadcast on TNT. The evening also welcomed a surprise appearance from a severely weakened Cash who was incredibly unwell at the time, the move came as such as shock that the audience wasn’t expecting him to be involved with proceedings—but it provided a lovely moment. He finished off the incredible evening with renditions of ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ and ‘Walk The Line’.
It would mark his last ever appearance on a major stage with Cash exclusively performing only playing in the Carter Family Fold, a non-profit organisation of the Carter family for the preservation of traditional music in Bristol, Virginia — which is now steeped in cultural history largely because of The Man In Black.
The star-studded event also saw Bob Dylan take on ‘Train of Love’, U2 covering ‘Don’t Take Your Guns To Town’, Willie Nelson performing ‘I Still Miss Someone’ and many more special moments that made it an unforgettable evening that cemented Cash’s legacy.
The Boss took to the stage in the middle of the set and delivered the most poignant moment in the set apart from when Cash performed at the end of the evening. Before he burst into his special cover of ‘Give My Love To Rose’, Springsteen told the crowd just how much he idolised Cash and why he meant so much to him.
“Johnny, I wanna send out a big thanks for the inspiration,” he said. “You kinda took the social consciousness from folk music, the gravity and humour from country music, the rebellion out of rock ‘n’ roll. You taught all those young guys that it was not only alright to tear up all those lines and boundaries but it was important,” Springsteen profoundly added.
In just a matter of sentences, The Boss managed to encapsulate the charm of Johnny Cash and how he managed to influence musicians from a wide-scaping number of genres who all shared his ethos that made him the legendary artist he is deservedly revered as today. Springsteen’s cover of ‘Give My Love To Rose’ is also effortlessly perfect and well worth a few minutes of your time, listen to it below.