Ruthie Foster: “Ring of Fire”

As you’ve probably noticed, the Song of the Day has gone through a bit of a transformation. Today we’re going to continue with the trend, and offer something a bit different: a history lesson.

On this date in 1964, Billboard premiered their Country Album chart. The first artist to grace the top slot was none other than Johnny Cash with his 1963 LP Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash. The album’s title is a bit misleading. The tracks don’t span his entire catalog up to that point, but it does bring together some of his finest material from ’58-’63, including classics like “Tennessee Flat Top Box,” “I Still Miss Someone,” and, of course the titular smash-hit “Ring of Fire.”

That brings us to today. Back in December, Texas-born soul and blues singer Ruthie Foster made a stop at our own Studio 1A where she performed three tunes including, you guessed it, “Ring of Fire.” She covered the song on her most recent, Grammy-nominated album Let It Burn. Foster’s live version of the tune here is stripped of the gleaming mariachi pomp of Cash’s classic original, and the intimate performance renders the tale of love so-intense-it-burns that much more poignant. The song simmers, and Foster’s voice soars.

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