Get Rhythm by Johnny Cash Lyrics Meaning – Exploring the Power of Optimism Through Song

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Johnny Cash's Get Rhythm at
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning


Hey, get rhythm when you get the blues
C’mon get rhythm, when you get the blues
Get a rock ‘n roll feeling in your bones
Put taps on your toes and get goin’
Get rhythm, when you get the blues.

Little shoeshine boy never get slowed down
But he’s got the dirtiest job in town
Bendin’ low at the peoples’ feet
On the windy corner of a dirty street
Well, I asked him while he shined my shoes
How’d he keep from gettin’ the blues
He grinned as he raised his little head
Popped a shoeshine rag and then he said.

Hey, get rhythm when you get the blues
C’mon get rhythm, when you get the blues
A jumpy rhythm makes you feel so fine
It’ll shake all the troubles from your worried mind,
Get rhythm, when you get the blues.

Get rhythm, when you get the blues
C’mon get rhythm, when you get the blues
Get a rock ‘n roll feeling in your bones
Put taps on your toes and get goin’
Get rhythm, when you get the blues.

Well, I sat down to listen to the shoeshine boy
And I thought I was gonna jump with joy
Slapped on the shoe polish left and right
He took a shoeshine rag and he held it tight
He stopped once to wipe the sweat away
I said you’re a mighty little boy to be-a workin’ that way
He said I like it with a big wide grin
Kept on a poppin’ and he said again

Get rhythm, when you get the blues
C’mon get rhythm, when you get the blues
It only cost a dime, just a nickel a shoe
It does a million dollars worth of good for you
Get rhythm, when you get the blues

Full Lyrics

Amidst the evergreen catalog of the Man in Black, a song like ‘Get Rhythm’ glistens with a straightforward charm often overshadowed by Johnny Cash’s more somber hits. In this 1956 toe-tapper, Cash delves into the blues – not to wallow, but to climb out, propelled by the infectious power of rhythm itself.

The track’s ability to transcend mere auditory pleasure and offer a timeless message about resilience and joy in the face of hardship cements its place in the pantheon of classic Cash. Let’s slip into the shoes that the legendary songsmith shines a light on with ‘Get Rhythm’ and take a stroll down its lyrical avenues.

Rhythm as the Ultimate Blues Buster

The power of music to act as an emotional salve is no new revelation, but ‘Get Rhythm’ gives it a cowboy-booted kick through its uncomplicated refrain. It’s not just about listening to music; it’s about embodying it, letting the ‘rock ‘n roll feeling’ seep into your bones. The lyrics insist that music, and specifically rhythm, is a crucial ally – an antidote to the daily grind and the blues that often accompany it.

By urging us to put ‘taps on our toes and get goin’,’ Cash is not just offering a musical strategy but prescribing a way of life that embraces active participation over passive endurance. The rhythm, then, becomes a metaphor for life’s march – a way to keep moving and grooving, despite the dirt and grime.

Uncovering the Shoeshine Boy’s Secret

In a characteristically Cash twist, the wisdom in ‘Get Rhythm’ comes from an unassuming source – the ‘little shoeshine boy’ mastering ‘the dirtiest job in town.’ The message implies that enlightenment, or here, a method to fend off the blues, often comes from where we least expect it.

The boy’s grin, his ‘poppin’ shoeshine rag,’ and his undeterred spirit in the face of ‘bendin’ low at the peoples’ feet’ transfigure a menial task into a testament of youthful hope. Through him, Cash communicates the potential to find joy and rhythm, regardless of one’s station in life.

A Musical Journey into the Heart of Everyday Heroism

Johnny Cash has always had an affinity for the everyman, and ‘Get Rhythm’ is an ode to those unsung heroes who face life’s inequities with a smile. The ‘mighty little boy’ acts as a beacon of perseverance, transforming his sweat into a symbol of earnest work and his work into a celebration of life’s simple pleasures.

Cash doesn’t just paint a picture of a shoeshine boy; he portrays an archetype, resonating with all who continue to push forward, finding their rhythm amidst the toil. The emphasis placed on the shoeshine boy’s narrative magnifies the small yet significant acts of courage that fill our world.

The Hidden Meaning: Rhythm as a Lifeline

Cash is no stranger to themes of redemption and struggle, but ‘Get Rhythm’ subtly shifts the paradigm from survival to thriving through its simplest form – rhythm. The song suggests rhythm as a lifeline, a thread we can all grasp to pull ourselves out of the blues.

It proposes that there’s something inherently healing in the act of tapping, popping, and moving to a beat, advocating for a life lived in sync with an inner harmony that can counterbalance the noise of life’s challenges.

Memorable Lines that Resonate Across Generations

‘It only costs a dime, just a nickel a shoe/It does a million dollars worth of good for you.’ These lines encapsulate the transformative value of embracing one’s rhythm. It’s not just about the monetary value but the boundless emotional wealth that can be gleaned from something as simple as a rhythm.

With its sprightly cadence and reaffirming words, ‘Get Rhythm’ carries a powerful core message wrapped in the veneer of a cheerful, country melody. In these lines, Johnny Cash captures the egalitarian nature of music – accessible to all and enriching to every soul that taps along.

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