Nov 16, 2011, 12:08

It’s hard to know whether the dialog between an auditioning Johnny Cash and legendary record producer Sam Phillips depicted in the film Walk the Line actually took place. Nonetheless, the speech Phillips gives is profound if you’re a struggling musician (*claimed under Fair use):

I’ve spent hundreds of hours at gigs or in the studio with musicians who pay their bills by taking whatever work comes their way. And every single one of them, me included, has a clear picture in their head of the masterpiece they could write tomorrow if they only had unlimited budget, unlimited time and someone to ride their ass.

Johnny Cash was lucky to have Phillips provide these resources.  Together they created a huge portion of the musical vocabulary we would hear today in a Johnny Cash royalty free sound alike.

But the rest of us, hoping we don’t get hit by that bus anytime soon, should loop this speech, brilliantly delivered by actor Dallas Roberts, in our  heads until we finally sit down and write that very first note.


Mike Bielenberg is a professional musician and co-founder of, a production music marketplace with over 15,000 tracks online where media producers, video producers, filmmakers, game developers, businesses and other music buyers can license high-quality, affordable royalty-free music from an online community of musicians

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