Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash weren't just one of the most iconic country music power couples of all time -- they were one of the most iconic couples of all time, period. Say only their first names and everyone knows who you're talking about; they're even the subjects of a love song that isn't one of theirs!
Some of Cash and Carter Cash's enduring legacy has to do with how much the two loved each other, yes. But their legend is buoyed by how good they sounded when they sang together. Something special happened when they took to the studio or the stage together.
Below, The Boot counts down the five best Johnny Cash / June Carter Cash duets. Keep reading to see if your favorite made the list.
"If I Were a Carpenter"From 'Hello, I'm Johnny Cash' (1970)
Like many of the songs on which the country couple collaborated, “If I Were a Carpenter” is a cover; the original was written and recorded by Tim Hardin. Other artists, including Bobby Darin and Joan Baez, have covered the song, but Cash and Carter Cash made it magic. Their playful back-and-forth on lines such as “If I were a carpenter, and you were a lady / Would you love me anyway?” helped take their version to No. 2 on the charts.
"Oh, What a Good Thing We Had"From 'Carryin' On with Johnny Cash and June Carter' (1967)
While Cash and Carter Cash made cover songs their specialty, “Oh, What a Good Thing We Had” was written by the pair. The song is narrated by a man and women remembering the high points of their relationship; the two somehow cheerfully deliver lines including “Oh, long walks by the river / Talkin’ about livin’ together / Oh, what a good thing we had, gone bad.”
"Daddy Sang Bass"Performed on 'The Johnny Cash Show'
“Daddy Sang Bass” is more than a collaboration between Cash and Carter Cash: It’s a family affair. Cash takes charge on the verses, but the chorus is a trade-off between the Man in Black, the Carter Family and the Statler Brothers. The veritable pile-on of family singers plays perfectly for a song the chorus of which starts “Daddy sang bass / Mama sang tenor / Me and little brother would join right in there.”
"It Ain't Me Babe"From 'Orange Blossom Special' (1965)
One sign of a good cover song is that the listener sometimes forgets who actually sang the original. Bob Dylan’s version of “It Ain’t Me Babe” is still a classic, but when you hear Cash and Carter Cash launch into the chorus with horns backing their harmonies, you could be forgiven for believing that theirs was the only version of the song to ever exist.
"Jackson"From 'Carryin' On with Johnny Cash and June Carter' (1967)
This smash might be Cash and Carter Cash's best-known recording; it remains hugely popular even today. “Jackson” emphasizes Carter Cash's ability to elevate a song from good to great, especially as she barrels into the harmonies on the reprise of the line “We got married in a fever hotter than a pepper sprout.” "Jackson" has been covered many times, but the couple's version hit No. 2 on the charts and won a Grammys trophy for Best Country & Western Performance Duet, Trio or Group.