Country Throwback: Johnny Cash Performs ‘Doin’ My Time’ in London, 1981

by Jon D. B.

 Throw way back to 1981 with us as the Man in Black, Johnny Cash, croons the Wembley Arena in jolly ol’ Londontown.

If there ever were a man to teach the rest of the globe about America’s country music – it was Johnny Cash. The legendary Man in Black found wild success, and sold millions of records, all across the world. From Australia and Japan, to London and back, Cash’s untouchable timbre set the world on fire.

Indeed, Cash, would perform in London quite a bit during his heyday. A string of appearances at London’s famous Wembley Arena through the late 70s and 80s would cement his status as an overseas icon. He would make several of these appearances with his wife, June Carter Cash, in concert, as well. And legend has it that every single one sold out.

For today’s Country Throwback with Johnny Cash, we’re taking a look at his Live in London appearance of 1981. The show was a continuation of his smash successes at Wembley years prior. As such, Cash was expected to pull out all his iconic classics like “Ring of Fire,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and – you guessed it – “Doin’ My Time”.

‘Live in London’ Lives on Through Recordings & Setlists

Cash’s London appearances are of legend to country music fans, and all Americana fans in general. So much so, in fact, that their setlist survive intact – in their exact order – to this day, archived by sites like

For concert fans, it’s always a treat to see a bonified setlist – especially one as iconic (and aged) as this one. Take a gander at the full setlist for Johnny Cash‘s Live In London show of 1981, and get yourself in the mood to do some time with the Man in Black.

Johnny Cash: Live In London (1981)

  • Ring Of Fire
  • Folsom Prison Blues
  • Without Love
  • Forty Shades of Green
  • Doin’ My Time (with Marty Stuart)
  • The Baron
  • If I Were A Carpenter (with June Carter Cash)
  • San Antonio Rose (by June Carter Cash)
  • Jackson (with June Carter Cash)
  • I Walk The Line
  • Don’t Take Your Guns To Town
  • Big River
  • Lay Me Down In Dixie (with Cindy Cash)
  • Ghost Riders In The Sky
  • Will The Circle Be Unbroken
  • Casey Jones
  • Orange Blossom Special

Johnny Cash Performs ‘Doin’ My Time’, Live in London (1981)

While “Doin My Time” was a massive hit for Cash, it wasn’t among the songs he wrote for himself. Cash fans will know he’s as well known for brilliant covers as he is his own songwriting, and “Time” is no exception. The song was originally written and performed by Jimmie Skinner. Skinner, a Kentucky native, was a country and bluegrass forefather whose sound greatly influenced the music of Cash and his contemporaries.

His lyrics remained unchanged by Johnny Cash, who brought them to a worldwide audience with his deep baritone:

On this rock pile, with my ball and chain
They call me by a number not a name Lord, Lord
Gotta do my time, i gotta do my time
With an achin’ heart, on that gal of mine

You can here my hammer, you can hear my saw
Gonna sing it like John Henry all day long Lord, Lord
Gotta do my time, i gotta do my time
With an achin’ heart, on that gal of mine

When that old judge looked down at me
Said i put you in that penetentiary Lord, Lord
Gotta do my time, i gotta do my time
With an achin’ heart, on that gal of mine

Well now it wont be long, just a few more days
They’ll let me out of here i’m gonna stay Lord, Lord
With that gal of mine, with that gal of mine
She’s a waited for me while i’ve done my time

Now, without further ado – here is late legend Johnny Cash singing one of his best, “Doin’ My Time”:

Johnny Cash – Doin’ My Time – England, 1981


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