Tennesseans have much to be proud of, but few things reach the level of Johnny Cash.

The Man in Black would have been 81 today.

Although he was born in Arkansas, Cash had Tennessee roots and scored his first record deal at Sun Studio in Memphis, alongside the likes of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.


He settled outside Nashville until his death in 2003 at the age of 71.

Cash wrote more than 1,000 songs, pretty much about everything. Several of the songs include references to Tennessee and the Chattanooga area, which played host to some of the more defining moments in his life. A famed arrest in Walker County led to Cash playing aconcertat the high school in LaFayette, Ga., one of the biggest events in the city’s history. After intending to commit suicide in Nickajack Cave, Cash experienced a spiritual awakening.

Here are five Cash songs about Chattanooga and Tennessee.

“Chattanooga City Limit Sign”
Cash takes a wild ride from Nashville to Chattanooga and hits 120 mph on Monteagle Mountain.

“Monteagle Mountain”
One of Cash’s trucker songs, it reminds drivers they risk their lives once they begin that “long, steep grade.”

“Chattanooga Sugar Babe”
There may be no money to buy cocaine, but Chattanooga is a fine old town, he says.

“Tennessee Stud”
A cover of the popular Jimmy Driftwood folk song was a mainstay in many of Cash’s sets.

“Big River”
A classic that helped put Cash on the map covers all down the Mississippi with a shout-out to Memphis.