Country Throwback: Watch Johnny Cash Discuss Timeless Hit ‘Ragged Old Flag’

by Suzanne Halliburton

It’s election day, the most patriotic day in this pandemic-plagued year. For the best appreciation of all this country stands for, let’s turn to Johnny Cash and his iconic song, “Ragged Old Flag.”

We’ve dug up an old interview between Ralph Emery and Cash discussing the song. It’s a poem at its most basic. Cash doesn’t sing. Rather, he narrates it. The country music legend describes his love for the flag as if he’s talking to a visitor to his town. He salutes Old Glory by listing the significant battles this country’s fought to protect our flag.

For context, Cash wrote the song when the country was rocked by the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam War.

As Cash wrote: “And the government for which she stands is scandalized throughout the land. And she’s getting threadbare and she’s wearing kind of thin. But she’s in good shape for the shape she’s in. Cause she’s been through the fire before. And I believe she can take a whole lot more.”

Nearly a half-century after Cash wrote the song, it still speaks to Americans, whether you’re a conservative or liberal or somewhere in between.

Johnny Cash Wrote 11 Songs on ‘Ragged Old Flag’ Album

Cash released the album “Ragged Old Flag” in 1974. There were a dozen songs included on it. Cash wrote 11 of the 12. He was co-writer with his wife, June Carter Cash for “I’m a Worried Man.”

Early in the 1970s, at about the time he was writing the songs on the album, Cash started cultivating his “Man in Black” image.

The song “Ragged Old Flag” made it to No. 31 on the Billboard charts for 1974.

Cash died in 2003. He was 71. For more information about the music legend, click the hyperlink for all our Johnny Cash content.

Cash’s official recording of the “Ragged Old Flag” featured the swell of patriotic music and the cadence of a single drum.