NOW THERE WAS A SONG | Johnny Cash hit was written piece by piece

This week in 1976: Ellis Island officially reopened in New York; West Point acknowledged widespread cheating; hundreds paraded through Central Park smoking marijuana and a singer from Kingsland, Arkansas, had his 97th hit song.

According to Wayne Kemp, Johnny Cash's 1976 No. 1, "One Piece At A Time" was a very difficult song to write.

Wayne said he worked on the song for two years before getting it to come together and his wife finally gave him the idea that tied alll the pieces of the song together so he could finish it.

"I had bunches of words going off in all different directions and she finally told me that if all those pieces were stolen at different times over the years – none of the pieces would fit," he said.

"And as soon as she told me that – everything clicked and then it dawned on me that you'd have a very ugly car if the parts didn't fit! "

The novelty song about an auto assembly line worker stealing an entire Cadillac, piece by piece, over a period of 20 years turned out to be the song that returned Johnny Cash to the top of the country music charts – where had not been in over five years.

According to the lyrics of the song, the title to the "mis-fit Cadillac weighed over 60 pounds. But according to Kemp, because the song contained so many words, the actual lyric sheet was seven handwritten pages and four typewritten pages.

Cash's Columbia Records single "One Day at a Time" became his 97th charted song on April 10th, 1976 and his 13th No. 1 on May 29th – for two weeks.

The record was on the country charts for 15 weeks and scored in the top 30 pop charts.

Between 1955 and 2003, Johnny Cash placed 135 songs on the country music charts, including 13 No. 1s.

Fifty-four of his 135 country chart songs also placed on the pop charts.

Cash joined The Grand Old Opry in 1956, was inducted into The Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1980 and inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall Of Fame in 1992.

J.R. "Johnny" Cash died in 2003.

Doug Davis' "Story Behind the Song" is now on 98.7 - Real Country at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. weekday. "Sunday in the Country" gospel country airs 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sundays. To listen online, download the app at Texarkana Radio Center or paste this URL into your browser:

  photo  Johnny Cash. Photo courtesy Doug Davis.

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