Social Distortion's Mike Ness on His 10 Best Country-Punk Covers

From the punk godfather's take on Johnny Cash to an unexpected Kitty Wells song

"Ring of Fire," Johnny Cash

You can't talk about the symbiotic connection between country music and punk rock without mentioning the fusion's high-water mark: Social Distortion's amped-up cover of "Ring of Fire" from their 1990 self-titled album. While Social D's pedal-to-the-floor take on the tune has become one of the band's signature songs, it wasn't greeted with unanimous approval. "People were kind of tripping out when I first told them about that one, even though I remember singing Johnny Cash songs like 'Wanted Man' in our live set as early as 1985," says Ness. "This was during a period of time where there were a lot of those 'what's punk versus what's not punk' discussions going on. I wasn't looking for the punk police to come around and tell me what I could and couldn't do. I thought it was very punk rock to cover a Johnny Cash song."