The idea of penning a love letter to one’s beloved may be outdated, thanks to e-cards, phone messages and texts, but a note from Johnny Cash to wife June Carter Cash may make the case for reviving the tradition.
Proving he was not only a talented performer and songwriter, in 1994 Cash composed what a British poll deemed the most romantic love letter of all time, to his wife June on the occasion of her 65th birthday. Cash wrote, “You still fascinate and inspire me. You influence me for the better. You’re the object of my desire, the #1 Earthly reason for my existence.”
Cash’s passionate expression came in ahead of love letters from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to his wife, poet John Keats (writing to his next door neighbor), musician Jimi Hendrix (to a mystery woman he calls his “little girl”) and twice-married actors Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Cash, who had been married to June for 26 years at the time, continued in the letter, “We got old and got used to each other. We think alike. We read each others [sic] minds. We know what the other wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes we take each other for granted. But once in a while, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met.”
According to the U.K.’s Daily Mail, the poll was commissioned by British life insurance company Beagle Street, in an effort to encourage Brits to be more romantic on Valentine’s Day. The poll also revealed that 38 percent of women admitted they had never written a love letter, while 24 percent of men said they had sent a love letter within the last year.
Also on the list: correspondence from President Gerald Ford to his wife Betty, after she was diagnosed with cancer; a note from Beethoven to his mysterious “Immortal Beloved”; and a letter written in 1527 from King Henry VIII to his second wife Anne Boleyn — whom he later had beheaded. Nobody said love was perfect.