There was one of them, "Ragged Old Flag" that I didn't even have any control over. It came out faster than I could write it down. You've heard of people who write a song in ten minutes. "Ragged Old Flag" was one of those songs. Then I recorded it at a Columbia luncheon at the House Of Cash and the applause is from the Columbia recording people who where in convention there. Chuck Cochran arranged the most unusual orchestration (and Earl Scruggs played the banjo). -- Johnny Cash

In the spring and summer of 1974, you couldn't avoid hearing this spoken-word-plus-accompaniment (the obvious fife and drums, etc., and a kitchen-sink, encyclopedic approach to 4th-of-July music, IIRC) on your local country radio station, and it also ascended into the lower reaches of the Top 40 charts. Inspired, loosely, by the Byron MacGregor hit version of Gordon Sinclair's "The Americans" (a.k.a. America: The Good Neighbor), it would become the title track of Cash's next LP (Ragged Old Flag). Cool album cover, with the Man in Black, dressed in denim this time around, pointing back at a large, ragged(y) old flag behind him. The Man-in-Black übercool of Mr. Cash always overrides the fact that this piece has become, over the years, associated with hyper-patriot dreck best (or, rather, worst) embodied by Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA". For me, nothing can tarnish that ragged old Cash.

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