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I've Been Everywhere, Man

In the 1990s and early 2000s, legendary musician Johnny Cash recorded a series of American-themed cover albums. With most of the tracks' arrangements consisting of Cash, his guitar, and a few studio musicians, these albums were somewhat of a departure from the Tennessee Three's (Cash's band) sound that was pioneered in the 1950s and 1960s. Even so, several hits arose from these albums, piling on top of the Man in Black's expansive, iconic catalog.

American II: Unchained, released in 1996, is the second album in the aforementioned series. The final track on this album, titled "I've Been Everywhere," is a cover of Hank Snow's 1962 version of the song. (The original writer, Geoff Mack, was Australian, so the lyrics had to be adapted for North America.) Beginning with a spoken introduction, Cash jumps into the rhythmic line, "I have traveled every road in this here land," as the band comes in and the song gets going. The chorus goes as follows:

I've been everywhere, man. I've been everywhere, man. Crossed the desert's bare, man. I've breathed the mountain air, man. Of travel I've had my share, man. I've been everywhere.

I typically gravitate towards Cash's "golden age" material, but I gave this song a close listen recently and found it shockingly relatable. Each verse, separated by quick choruses, rhythmically lists off the many cities, states, and countries that the Man in Black has been to. Given my military brat walk of life, I noticed that I have been to many of those places myself.

I've been to: Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota, Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma, Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma, Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo, Tocapillo, Baranquilla, and Perdilla, I'm a killer.

Yup. Right off the bat, I've been to about half of those locations, having called two of them home for several years.

I've been to: Boston, Charleston, Dayton, Louisiana, Washington, Houston, Kingston, Texarkana, Monterey, Faraday, Santa Fe, Tallapoosa, Glen Rock, Black Rock, Little Rock, Oskaloosa, Tennessee to Tennesse Chicopee, Spirit Lake, Grand Lake, Devils Lake, Crater Lake, for Pete's sake.

Again, lots of familiarities here. I have lived in two of the states mentioned in this verse and spent a fair bit of time in several of the cities mentioned.

I've been to: Louisville, Nashville, Knoxville, Ombabika, Schefferville, Jacksonville, Waterville, Costa Rica, Pittsfield, Springfield, Bakersfield, Shreveport, Hackensack, Cadillac, Fond du Lac, Davenport, Idaho, Jellico, Argentina, Diamantina, Pasadena, Catalina, see what I mean-a.

I haven't called any places in the third verse home, but I have been through nearly all of them. If you and I were to combine our lists of places lived, we would probably have the song about covered by now.

I've been to: Pittsburgh, Parkersburg, Gravelbourg, Colorado, Ellensburg, Rexburg, Vicksburg, Eldorado, Larimore, Atmore, Haverstraw, Chatanika, Chaska, Nebraska, Alaska, Opelika, Baraboo, Waterloo, Kalamazoo, Kansas City, Sioux City, Cedar City, Dodge City, what a pity.

The final verse contains a few stations of mine, plus several cities nearby. Colorado and Alaska are very common destinations for military families.

Cash in uniform in the early 1950s.

Despite the fact that he did not write this song, there is no lack of authenticity in Cash's performance — he certainly has been everywhere. Being most popular in the mid-20th century, the Man in Black often drove his own tour bus between concerts located hundreds to thousands of miles apart. Interestingly, himself an Air Force veteran, Cash made several PCS moves in his early adulthood. Furthermore, he was sympathetic to service members and their families in the Vietnam War, referencing them in his manifesto song "Man in Black."

I found that this hymn functions very well as a military brat "theme song." Many of us have been across the country (or even the world) before even coming of age. While our nomadic lifestyle brings extreme challenges, it is ultimately something that we should be proud of. After all, we've been everywhere, man.


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