Jerry Reed’s ‘A Thing Called Love’ was instrumental in the careers of Jimmy Dean and Johnny Cash


Jerry Reed, a tall, blond country music singer and guitarist with a talent for writing songs and playing good-natured Southern-type characters, has undeniably made his name in the music and film industries.

For starters, he was just 18 when record producer Bill Lowery signed him to record his first record, “If the Good Lord’s Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise.” Then he joined Capitol Records, dubbed the new teenage sensation shortly after recording his rockabilly composition “When I Found You” in 1956. Two years later, he signed with the National Recording Corporation, and hit the followed. He earned himself a string of hits and even appeared in many movies. In 2005 he was elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. And after his death, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

But did you know that the songs of Jerry Reed played an important role in the musical careers of Jimmy Dean and Johnny Cash? Yes, you read that right. Jimmy Dean and Johnny Cash both covered Jerry Reed’s “A Thing Called Love” and made a bigger hit with the hit song, which helped lift their careers even higher.

“A Thing Called Love”

Six foot six, he stood on the ground, weighed two hundred and thirty five pounds, but I saw the giant of a man brought to his knees by love. Who could ever forget that memorable intro verse from Jerry Reed’s “A Thing Called Love”? The track was written by the singer himself and released as part of his 1968 album Nashville Subway. It is one of the best he has ever written in his career. Which is why it was no surprise that various artists, including Jimmy Dean and Johnny Cash, covered this quality song.

Jimmy Dean Version

Jimmy Dean was a household name in the entertainment industry as a national television personality, country music singer, and actor. His rise to fame was credited to his 1961 country music rock and roll crossover hit titled “Big Bad John”, which then opened the door for him and created The Jimmy Dean Show in 1963.

Then in the late ’60s he moved to RCA, and that’s when he recorded “A Thing Called Love.” He was the first to propel the song up the charts and become a major hit. Although the song’s success for many is still a product of Reed’s strong songwriting skills rather than Dean’s interpretation. Nonetheless, Dean gave the song the stardom it deserved.

Johnny Cash Version

Johnny Cash had already established his name in the industry when he recorded “A Thing Called Love” in 1971 as a single. The song reached number two on the country charts and became one of the number one country hits in Canada. It was also recorded as Cash’s biggest hit in Europe, charting in Ireland, the UK and the Netherlands. In 1988, the country music artist re-recorded the song for his album Classic silver: Hall of Fame series.

Truly, Jerry Reed’s “A Thing Called Love” helped the musical careers of Jimmy Dean and Johnny Cash soar even higher, smashing the airwaves and country charts with their own versions of this great song.


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