Give My Love to Rosie by Johnny Cash Lyrics Meaning – Unraveling the Heartstrings of Redemption

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Johnny Cash's Give My Love to Rosie 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 down 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 that 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

‘Cause 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 that daddy’s so proud of him

And don’t forget to give my love to Rose

Full Lyrics

In the annals of country music, certain songs stand out not just for their melody but for the poignant stories they tell, painting vivid pictures of life, loss, and longing. Among these is Johnny Cash’s ‘Give My Love to Rosie,’ a ballad that weaves a tale of regret, redemption, and the indelible bonds of family. As we delve into the narrative Cash unearths, we find ourselves in the presence of more than just music—it’s a slice of life laid bare.

At first listen, ‘Give My Love to Rosie’ appears to be a straightforward country ballad, but beneath the surface lies a complex tapestry of human emotions and societal reflection. It is a song that speaks of the myriad struggles faced by those who have fallen on the wrong side of the law and the repercussions on the loved ones they leave behind. Let us explore the fervent message hidden in the lyrics of this classic and the profound impact it bears on the listener.

A Dying Man’s Final Plea: Unpacking the Narrative

Cash introduces us to a character who is on his last thread of life, discovered beside a railroad track. This man, recently released from prison and on a journey of thousands of miles, embodies the archetypal antihero of Cash’s storytelling. His confession paves a path of empathy that leads the listener through the landscape of atonement and penance, evoking a powerful sympathetic response.

The somber acknowledgment of a decade lost to incarceration, the aching desire to reunite with his family, and the humble request to pass on his love sets the stage for a tale that is universally understood. This emblematic Johnny Cash outlaw is not characterized by his past but by his profound humanity and the desperate reach for connection in his final moments.

Effortless Poetry: Dissecting the Song’s Most Memorable Lines

‘Take her all my money, tell her to buy some pretty clothes’ – this lyric serves as a metaphor that extends beyond the literal. It reflects a yearning to provide and a wish to bring joy to those he cherishes, even when he is not present. The money, finite and fleeting, is less a solution and more a symbol of his love, given the little time he likely imagined he had.

Moreover, when the dying man implores that his son knows of his father’s pride, we are confronted with the stark reality that his absence has been a void no monetary gift can fill. It’s an appeal to retain a presence in his child’s life, an intangible legacy worth more than any physical belonging he could offer.

The Hidden Meaning: A Societal Commentary in Disguise?

On the surface, ‘Give My Love to Rosie’ is a personal story of longing and farewell. But within its verses, it carries an implicit critique of a justice system that, in punishing one, leaves many in a silent struggle. The song captures the shared heartbreak of families torn apart by imprisonment, underscoring the often-overlooked social impact of a sentence served.

Cash, through the voice of the dying man, forces us to confront the harsh realities facing those released from prison – a road of obstacles and the hope of reconciliation with a world that may have moved on. The protagonist’s plight poses a question of what redemption looks like when it comes face to face with humanity’s unforgiving nature.

Love Beyond the Grave: The Inextinguishable Bond of Family

While the song serves as a stark exploration of the main character’s journey, it also stands as a testament to the unwavering love for his family. The affection and concern for his partner and child resonate throughout the track, creating an emotional bridge between the departed and those who continue to live.

Cash’s portrayal of Rosie and her son as a fulcrum of hope not only personalizes the story but also imbues a deeper sense of loss. It is a reminder that behind every convict’s number, there lies a human story of someone loved and missed—a narrative continued by those who remain.

A Eulogy Through Melody: The Rich Musicality of Sorrow

The musical composition of ‘Give My Love to Rosie’ is carefully constructed to match the narrative’s emotional contours. The stripped-down instrumentation, characterized by Cash’s signature guitar accompaniment, serves to underscore the simplicity and gravity of the protagonist’s final words.

Cash’s husky baritone delivers each lyric with a solemnity that ensures the song’s tale of redemption is not only heard but felt. The haunting timbre of his voice, combined with the measured cadence of the chords, crafts an elegy that dwells within the listener long after the last note fades.

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