“You can’t help nobody if you
can’t tell ‘em the right story.”

Early in “Walk the Line” the older brother of “JR” Cash explained why he spent so much time reading the Bible. The elder Cash died young, but Johnny Cash went on to tell some stories of his own.

While the film celebrates Cash’s music, its heart is the relationship between “the man in black” and June Carter. From the first time he saw her backstage before one of his earliest live shows, he was hooked. Cash would eventually shed an addiction to amphetamines, but he’d never get over her. When they met, both were married, and for years he pined for her, but she kept him at arms length for a long ten of them.

There are moments of intense emotional pain both endure. With his marriage crumbling and his wife realizing why, she lashes out and a violent fight ends on the kitchen floor with the couples 3 young children looking on in horror. June suffers her own penance of judgment and indignity. In a general store, she smiles at a woman she thinks is a fan only to be scolded that her own recent divorce was “an abomination.” “I’m sorry I let you down, ma’am,” was her humble reply.

Maybe it’s that deep pain that fuels the intensity of a relationship like theirs. Cash desperately hangs on to her like she’s a life preserver in a drowning ring of fire. She rescued him, then Johnny Cash made “Ring of Fire” famous. For he sang it with the same fire he had for the woman who wrote it: June Carter Cash.

Ring of Fire
Love is a burning thing
and it makes a fiery ring
bound by wild desire
I fell in to a ring of fire…

I fell in to a burning ring of fire
I went down,down,down
and the flames went higher.
And it burns,burns,burns
the ring of fire
the ring of fire.

The taste of love is sweet
when hearts like our’s meet
I fell for you like a child
oh, but the fire went wild.