Friday Five: Amazing Grace

Ken Morton, Jr. | July 27th, 2012

Written in 1779 by John Newton, “Amazing Grace” is still one of the most recognizable songs in the world nearly 250 years later. Part redemption, part forgiveness and part deliverance from despair, this song seems to be appropriate at times like these. Over the years, thousands of artists have covered the song. Here are a few of my favorites.

5. Johnny Cash – “Amazing Grace”

In 1975, Cash released his version of this classic hymn on his Johnny Cash Sings Precious Memories album.


4. Willie Nelson – “Amazing Grace”

Nelson has done many versions of the song, but most recently a traditional arrangement produced by Ryan Adams on 2006 album, Songbird.


3. Ray Charles – “Amazing Grace”

The strings on this particular arrangement are beautiful – and Ray delivers a knockout performance.


2. Dolly Parton – “Amazing Grace”

Dolly Parton released her studio version of “Amazing Grace” on her 1999 album, Precious Memories.


1. George Jones – “Amazing Grace”

In 2003, Jones released a two-disc project called The Gospel Collection. This is the standout track.

  1. Michael A.
    July 27, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    A search of my iTunes library reveals a number of versions that I like (Lari White, Connie Smith, LeAnn Rimes, Ladysmith Black Mambazo with Emmylou Harris and Aretha Franklin) and a few that were… underwhelming (Alabama, The Maverick Choir)

  2. Jon
    July 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    No one’s posted on YouTube the excellent Ralph Stanley version that’s on Clinch Mountain Gospel, but you can hear him do that at – pretty good even if Keith Whitley’s not in there.

    More generally, there’s a great history of the song, with lots of audio samples of different versions, here: .

  3. Rick
    July 27, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    I’m just amazed (pun intended) that Alan Jackson
    did not include this song on his “Precious Memories” album! Crikey mate!

  4. Adam Sheets
    July 27, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    My personal favorite is the Blackwood Brothers from their “Stranger from Galilee” LP from 1958.

  5. Barry Mazor
    July 27, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Y’know that time on Star Trek when they played that song on the bagpipes and they sent Spock’s dead body out into space that was really rad I thought and you knew they would bring Spock back, but still the song was like really amazing.

  6. luckyoldsun
    July 27, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    “amazed …that Alan Jackson did not include this song”

    AJ tends to project a laconic, laid-back demeanor. Maybe the intensity of these lyrics didn’t fit his persona or the mood he was trying to create for his album. (I have not heard the “Precious Memories” album, but it’s just a guess.)

    The song calls for Robeson or Ernie.

  7. Ken Morton, Jr.
    July 27, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Despite the fact that you completely “wasted” a full hour of my afternoon, thanks for that Library of Congress link, Jon. :) I had never been there before. For those that didn’t click his link, there are 3,000 recorded versions of the song there.

  8. Michael A.
    July 28, 2012 at 12:08 am

    I can’t find the Dolly version available for purchase anywhere online. :(

  9. sheldon
    July 29, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Michael A; The Dolly version is from a CD Dolly did to raise money for the Dollywood Foundation. It was never released in stores, just sold exclusively through Dollywood. Copies show up on eBay all the time, and usually for a great price. I’d buy Dolly singing the phonebook, so I am biased a little, but she did a really good job on the CD – well worth the effort for you to find it.

  10. Michael A.
    July 30, 2012 at 1:33 am

    Thanks Sheldon. I’ll probably order a used copy from Amazon, because I’m interested in some of the other tracks as well. Dolly is one of my favorites and I have hundreds of her songs in my library. Time to add 10 more. :)

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