10 Songs, 41 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Social Distortion’s cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” signaled a crucial shift in the career of Orange County’s proudest sons. It wasn't simply a revved-up, tongue-in-cheek punk cover of a Nashville classic; it was a genuine and heartfelt reanimation of a timeless love song, passed from one outlaw to another. The self-titled album that accompanied “Ring of Fire” proved that Social Distortion had become much more than an O.C. punk band. It was the eager inheritor of a rock tradition that extended not only from Joe Strummer and Bruce Springsteen, but also from Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Hank Williams. Band leader Mike Ness would always carry himself as a graduate of the L.A. gutter-punk scene, and songs like “She’s a Knockout,” “A Place in My Heart," and “So Far Away” carried the torch for hardcore. But with this album, he started to identify more with the singing outlaws who'd preceded him, scarred but sensitive with their tall tales of lost love, jailbreaks, and train robberies. By superimposing the iconography of early American roots music on his Orange County punk ethos, Ness created two of the band’s most enduring songs: “Ball and Chain” and “Story of My Life.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Social Distortion’s cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” signaled a crucial shift in the career of Orange County’s proudest sons. It wasn't simply a revved-up, tongue-in-cheek punk cover of a Nashville classic; it was a genuine and heartfelt reanimation of a timeless love song, passed from one outlaw to another. The self-titled album that accompanied “Ring of Fire” proved that Social Distortion had become much more than an O.C. punk band. It was the eager inheritor of a rock tradition that extended not only from Joe Strummer and Bruce Springsteen, but also from Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Hank Williams. Band leader Mike Ness would always carry himself as a graduate of the L.A. gutter-punk scene, and songs like “She’s a Knockout,” “A Place in My Heart," and “So Far Away” carried the torch for hardcore. But with this album, he started to identify more with the singing outlaws who'd preceded him, scarred but sensitive with their tall tales of lost love, jailbreaks, and train robberies. By superimposing the iconography of early American roots music on his Orange County punk ethos, Ness created two of the band’s most enduring songs: “Ball and Chain” and “Story of My Life.”

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