Music

'These Are My People': Johnny Cash's Earnest Tribute to Hard-Working Americans

In this Oct. 1986 file photo, country music legend Johnny Cash performs in Jackson, Tenn. An east Arkansas radio station that once charged blues musicians and other performers $15 for a few minutes of exposure intends to return to the air in 2014. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

Johnny Cash's 1972 album America: a 200-Year Salute in Story and Song walks listeners through American history with recitations, including Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, plus covers of folk songs by Ramblin' Jack Elliott ("Mister Garfield"), Jane Bowers ("Remember the Alamo") and Jimmy Driftwood ("The Battle of New Orleans"). The Man in Black even sang "Take a Trip in My Airship" long before many of us learned it from Natalie Merchant.

There's Cash originals and co-writes, as well, reflecting his anger over the mistreatment of Native Americans ("Big Foot") as well as snapshots of moments in American history ("Paul Revere," "The Road to Kaintuck," "The Big Battle"). Yet Cash's finest moment on the album as a songwriter, storyteller, history buff and patriot comes with "These are My People."

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Though it's not as famous a statement of Cash's values as "Ragged Old Flag," "These Are My People" is an earnest tribute to the hard-working citizens of a proud land.

The album's included in the Bear Family box set Come Along and Ride This Train. If that's out of your price range, it's easy enough to find on vinyl.

"These Are My People" Lyrics

These are my people
This is a land where my forefathers lie
These are my people
In brotherhood, we're heirs of a creed to live by
A creed that proclaims that by loved one's blood stains
This is my land and these are my people

These are my people
They were born on and lived by the land
These are my people
And their cities were raised by hardworking hands
And their faces do tell that they're holding on well
To this, their land
Yes, these are my people

These are my people
These are the ones who will reach for the stars
These are my people
By the light of the Earth, you can tell they are ours
A new step to take and a new day will break
For this, my land
Yes these are my people These are my people
Hmm

America: a 200 Year Salute in Story and Song Tracklist

"Opening Dialogue"
"Paul Revere"
"Begin West Movement"
"The Road To Kaintuck"
"To The Shining Mountains"
"The Battle Of New Orleans"
"Southwestward"
"Remember The Alamo"
"Opening The West"
"Lorena"
"The Gettysburg Address"
"The West"
"Big Foot"
"Like A Young Colt"
"Mister Garfield"
"A Proud Land"
"The Big Battle"
"On Wheels And Wings"
"Come Take A Trip In My Airship"
"Reaching For The Stars"
"These Are My People"

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'These Are My People': Johnny Cash's Earnest Tribute to Hard-Working Americans