A stark, desolate declaration of eternal love that at times seems to border on dangerous obsession, "I Walk the Line" made Johnny Cash a star in the summer of 1956 -- not only on the country front, where the Man in Black had prevailed ever since his Sun Records debut, "Cry! Cry! Cry!," the previous autumn, and its follow-ups "So Doggone Lonesome" and "Folsom Prison Blues" -- but on the pop hit parade too, where the country & western chart-topper made a very impressive number 17 showing on Billboard's lists. "I Walk the Line" convincingly announced the arrival of a new and unique talent whose deep, sincere vocal style and unusually sparse band accompaniment from the Tennessee Two (guitarist Luther Perkins' rudimentary lead fills were solely buttressed by Marshall Grant's slapping upright bass and Cash's own strummed acoustic axe, the latter muted by a sheet of paper slipped through the strings to provide a percussive element) sounded like nothing else then aboard the country charts. Changing keys with every stanza (each switch signaled by a long hum from Cash that sounds as though he's steadying himself on that particular key before commencing with the lyrics) over Perkins' hypnotic rhythm figure on his bass strings, the Kingsland, AR, native delivered his statement with unswerving commitment on April 2, 1956, at 706 Union in Memphis. Sun boss Sam Phillips allowed another potential hit tucked on its flip side -- the enormously infectious rocker "Get Rhythm" -- to slip away, but Cash was so prolific with a pen at that point that it probably didn't matter to anyone. "I Walk the Line" endures as Cash's signature theme.