Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers, “Johnny Cash is Dead (And His House Burned Down)”

lgatlinAs song titles go, “Johnny Cash is Dead (And His House Burned Down)”  doesn’t have quite the eloquence of “The King is Gone”, does it?

Not that subtlety would suit anything about this record anyway, which is as bluntly written and performed as you’d expect from the combination of title and artist here. Plenty of other late stars are name-dropped along the way, including Marty Robbins, Waylon Jennings, and Chet Atkins, with predictable lamenting that the “empty cowboy hats” of today can’t replace those who we’ve already lost.

Of course they can’t. But they can build on the legacy and create lasting music of their own. I’m nearing twenty years as a country fan, and I’ve been able to watch once-young acts like Alan Jackson, Patty Loveless, Dwight Yoakam and Alison Krauss gradually move toward legendary status. It takes time.

The Gatlins would do well to pay a little more attention to what has actually happened in country music since the heyday of the stars he laments. If they can’t do that, they could at least find a song that’s closer in quality to “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes”, instead of this piece of trite claptrap.

Grade: D

Listen: Johnny Cash is Dead (And His House Burned Down)”


  1. Holy reverb and vibrato! Ick.

    Oh yeah, the title is pretty lame and pandering too.

    For that matter, the whole song is a big pandering mess. As Kelly mentioned from The Gobblers Knob, it’s odd that the song bothers to decry the lack of fiddle and steel guitar in today’s music when this song specifically does not have it.

    The only appealing part of this song is Cash’s signature rythmic production, but I’d rather just hear it from the man himself.

  2. This review is a little harsh – it’s not a great song but better than much of what I hear get played on radio these days – probably a solid “C”. It is nice to hear a new song from a group that actually understands how harmony works

    As far as pandering messes go, I’ve heard the Cash name invoked in far more pandering songs than this in recent radio hits

  3. the names he used worked well in the rhyme scheme. so what, he’s right, modern country is 90 percent terrible. that song is amazing. yes the other people Mr. Coyne dropped are great artists but who else? Do you like Trace Adkins, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw? ANy of that? Cause if you do, you sir are a damn fool.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.