Give My Love to Rose by Johnny Cash Lyrics Meaning – Unraveling the Heartache in a Timeless Ballad

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


I found him by the railroad track this morning
I could see that he was nearly dead
I knelt down beside him and I listened
Just to hear the words the dying fellow said

He said they let me out of prison out in Frisco
For ten long years I’ve paid for what I’ve done
I was trying to get back to Louisiana
To see my Rose and get to know my son

Give my love to Rose please won’t you mister
Take her all my money, tell her to buy some pretty clothes
Tell my boy his daddy’s so proud of him
And don’t forget to give my love to Rose

Won’t you tell them I said thanks for waiting for me
Tell my boy to help his mom at home
Tell my Rose to try to find another
For it ain’t right that she should live alone

Mister here’s a bag with all my money
It won’t last them long the way it goes
God bless you for finding me this morning
And don’t forget to give my love to Rose

Give my love to Rose please won’t you mister
Take her all my money, tell her to buy some pretty clothes
Tell my boy his daddy’s so proud of him
And don’t forget to give my love to Rose

Full Lyrics

At the heart of Johnny Cash’s discography is ‘Give My Love to Rose’, a song that casts a long shadow across the landscape of American music. This isn’t just a ballad; it’s a vessel carrying the weight of regret, redemption, and the raw human longing for connection amid the bleakest of circumstances. Delivered in Cash’s signature baritone, each lyric pulses with an authenticity that is as haunting as it is profound.

Dealing with themes of incarceration, loss, and the fervent hope for forgiveness, ‘Give My Love to Rose’ resonates on multiple levels. It encapsulates the intricate tapestry of emotion and narrative that is the hallmark of Cash’s songwriting prowess. The song’s beauty lies not only in its sorrowful melody but also in its ability to capture a moment of piercing sincerity that listeners can viscerally feel regardless of their own life experiences.

The Man in Black’s Tale of Redemption

Johnny Cash, also known as The Man in Black, was no stranger to themes of redemption. His music often danced along the edges of darkness and light, and ‘Give My Love to Rose’ is a testament to this duality. The protagonist’s journey from prison back to his family is not just a trip across states but a metaphorical trek seeking salvation. This song is a reflection of Cash’s own battles with personal demons and the quest for atonement in his life.

Each verse of the song taps into the concept of paying one’s dues and the hope that follows such atonement. The fading plea of a dying man to the stranger who finds him illuminates the idea that, sometimes, redemption is only possible through the benevolence of others—an act of kindness that can carry a person’s legacy beyond the grip of death.

Unearthing the Layers of Longing in Cash’s Lyrics

The song’s narrative delves deeply into the pain of separation and the fervent desire to return to loved ones. This yearning permeates each line, bringing to the forefront the emotional gravity that ties together families torn apart by life’s cruelties. By recounting the prisoner’s simple wishes for his family, Cash brings listeners into the stark reality of love persisting through hardship.

The poignant request to ‘give my love to Rose’ is more than just a refrain; it’s a man’s final connection to the world he is leaving behind. It encapsulates the essence of human vulnerability—the need to endure in the hearts and minds of those we cherish, even as we face our inevitable end.

The Unmistakable Heartbreak Wrapped in Simple Gifts

Johnny Cash’s protagonist doesn’t ask for monuments or grand gestures. Instead, his final requests are humble: take care of his family, dress them warmly, and let them know they were loved. It’s this simplicity that wrenches the heart and binds the listener to the song’s narrative. The mention of ‘all my money’ and ‘pretty clothes’ serves as a stark contrast to the vastness of his love, which cannot be adequately expressed in material terms.

Through this lens, ‘Give My Love to Rose’ becomes a meditation on the significance of human connection, the inherent value found in our intentions, and the small yet profound legacies we leave behind.

A Peek Behind the Curtain of Cash’s Creative Genius

It’s in songs like ‘Give My Love to Rose’ that Johnny Cash’s songwriting genius is most apparent. The stripped-down melody and raw storytelling are indicative of his ability to weave intricate tales with the simplest of brushstrokes. Cash’s understanding of the human condition allows him to create a world so real that one can almost hear the train tracks and feel the desperation of the song’s character.

There is an honesty in the plainspoken words and the gentle guitar strumming that supports them—a sincerity that is increasingly rare in the polished landscape of modern music. Perhaps this unvarnished truth is why the song continues to resonate with generations of listeners.

Memorable Lines That Echo Through Time

When the dying man implores, ‘Tell my boy his daddy’s so proud of him,’ the line strikes a chord that resonates with anyone who has ever longed to express pride, love, or approval to someone from a distance—a universal experience. This lyrical gem encapsulates Cash’s gift for drawing profound emotion from simple expressions.

As the song comes to a close, the listener is left to ponder the fate of Rose and her boy, the memory of the man they loved, and the kindness of a stranger touched by the dying wish of a soul seeking solace. It is within these memorable lines that the essence of humanity is laid bare, making ‘Give My Love to Rose’ an undying piece of musical poetry.

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