5 Songs You Didn’t Know Carl Perkins Wrote for Other Artists

By the mid-1940s, a teenage Carl Perkins, born April 9, 1932, in Tiptonville, Tennessee, started performing with his siblings, Clayton and Jay, as the Perkins Brothers Band and released their first song, “Movie Magg,” which he wrote at the age of 13. Perkins would later release that early song on his first album after kicking off his solo career as a singer and songwriter in the mid-’50s.

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Known for writing and first recording “Blue Suede Shoes,” which later became a hit for Elvis Presley in 1956, along with other hits “Matchbox,” “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby,” and “Honey, Don’t,” Perkins’ music songbook spans a deep collection of songs he released from his 1957 debut, Dance Music through Friends, Family & Legends in 1992 and a collection of collaborations in between.

In addition to penning songs for other artists over the years, Perkins’s longest collaboration was with his friend Johnny Cash, from the mid-1950s to his joining Cash’s touring troupe in 1965. Cash co-wrote one of Perkins’ earliest solo singles “All Mama’s Children,” released in 1956. Perkins would return the favor by writing several tracks for Cash, and the two would often cover one another’s songs over the years.

Perkins joined Cash for his legendary Folsom Prison performances, and the duo worked on several collaborative albums together, including Million Dollar Quartet, featuring early Sun Records cohorts Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. The two remained friends until Perkins’ death in 1998 at 65.

Throughout his nearly 50-plus year career making music, Perkins’ collaborations spanned country and beyond with everyone from Dolly Parton, The Judds, and Roy Orbison, and many more artists, including his 1996 album, Go, Cat, Go! which featured Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Tom Petty, and John Fogerty.

Over the decades, Perkins’ songs also crisscrossed every genre with covers by everyone from The Beatles, who became friendly with the country icon in the ’60s and covered a number of his songs, including “Your True Love” and “Honey, Don’t.” Other Perkins covers include Ringo Starr (“Sure to Fall in Love with You),” Jerry Lee Lewis (“Matchbox”), Emmylou Harris (“Restless”), The Cramps (“He Rubbed Her Off”), and Chris Isaak (“Dixie Fried”), among dozens more.

Here are five songs Perkins wrote for other artists from Johnny Cash in the late 1950s to Dolly Parton in the ’90s.

1. “The Ballad of Boot Hill,” Johnny Cash (1959)
Written by Carl Perkins

Released on his 1965 concept album, Johnny Cash Sings the Ballads of the True West, “The Ballad of Boot Hill” is an ode to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. “Boot Hill” referred to the burial area in Tombstone, where gunfighters would often die with their boots on. Perkins also penned Cash’s “Daddy Sang Bass,” featured on his Folsom Prison Blues album in 1968.

Out in Arizona just south of Tucson
Where tumbleweeds tumble in search of a home
There’s a town they call Tombstone where the brave never cry
They live by a sixgun by a sixgun they die

It’s been a long time now since the town was a boom
The jailhouse is empty so’s the Palace Saloon
Just one look will tell you that this town was real
A secluded old dirt road leads up to Boot Hill

2. “So Wrong,” Patsy Cline (1962)
Written by Carl Perkins, Mel Tillis, and Danny Dill

Patsy Cline sings about someone who realizes how wrong they were to hurt their lover on “So Wrong.” Reaching the top 20 on the country chart, at No. 14, “So Wrong” originally appeared on Cline’s 1962 EP, So Wrong/You’re Stronger Than Me, as well as posthumous releases, The Patsy Cline Story in 1963 and Patsy Cline’s Greatest Hits album in 1967.

I’ve been so wrong, for so long
Thought I could live without the love that you give
I was wrong, oh, so wrong

I’ve been so wrong, for so long
I didn’t know that I loved you so
I was wrong

Well, I never knew I could want you darlin’
Oh, so much
Now that you’re gone, I dream of you
And your sweet touch

3. “Rise and Shine,” Tommy Cash (1969)
Written by Carl Perkins

By the late 1960s, Johnny Cash‘s older brother Tommy was starting to release his own music and would continue to build his catalog well into the 2000s. His 2008 releases, Shades of Black and Fade to Black: Memories of Johnny, are a tribute to his late brother, featuring duets with Marty Stuart and George Jones. By 1970, Cash had two top 10 singles, “One Song Away” and the Perkins-penned “Rise and Shine.” In 2016, Cash also acted in the teen crime drama The River Thief.

Little children, do not worry, ’cause you still got lots of time
There’s no need in walking backwards, turn around and rise and shine
If your load always seems heavy, and you’re always left behind
Pick yourself up from the ground, and jump right back and rise and shine

Rise and shine in the early morning, shine your light on through the day
Makes no difference what they tell you, stand right up and have your say
‘Cause the good Lord said He loves you, and through Him your strength you’ll find
Even though the world may use you, turn around and rise and shine

4. “Let Me Tell You About Love,” The Judds (1988)
Written by Carl Perkins, Paul Kennerley, Brent Maher

On “Let Me Tell You About Love,” The Judds sing through biblical love stories, from Solomon and the Queen of Sheba to Sampson and Delilah. Off their fifth album, River of Time, which reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200, “Let Me Tell You About Love” hit No. 1. Perkins also plays guitar on the track and later worked with the duo on their 1993 compilation, The Judds: Greatest Hits Volume II,

Sampson and Delilah had their fling
‘Til she cut his hair and clipped his wing
It don’t matter how the story’s told
Love stays young, it can’t grow old

Let me tell you about love
About the moon and stars above
It’s what we’ve all been dreamin’ of
Let me tell you about love

5. “Silver and Gold,” Dolly Parton (1991)
Written by Carl Perkins, Stan Perkins, Greg Perkins

Off Dolly Parton‘s 31st album, Eagle When She Flies, Perkins co-wrote the pensive ballad “Silver and Gold” with his sons Greg and Stan. Telling the story about a wise old man who had very little but was rich in other ways, “Silver and Gold” peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

Well, I met an old man walkin’ down the street
His clothes were torn and tattered
With sandals on his feet
And I stopped to help him
And lend him a hand
He said, I love you so much
But you must understand

Silver and gold might buy you a home
But things of this world
They won’t last you long
And time has a way of turning us old
And time can’t be bought back with silver and gold

Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images

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