One Piece at a Time

One Piece at a Time
"One Piece at a Time"
Single by Johnny Cash
from the album One Piece at a Time
B-side "Go On Blues"
Released March 1976
Genre Rockabilly
Length 4:00
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Wayne Kemp

Charlie Bragg / Don Davis

Audio sample
file info · help
Johnny Cash singles chronology
"Strawberry Cake"
"One Piece at a Time"
"Sold Out of Flagpoles"

"One Piece at a Time" is a humorous rockabilly song written by Wayne Kemp[1] and recorded by Johnny Cash in 1976. It would be the last song performed by Cash to reach number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.


Chart performance

Chart (1976) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 29
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 6
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles 40
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 1
U.K. Singles Chart 32


Johnny Cash in the driver's seat and Bruce Fitzpatrick at the far right.

The song tells of a man who, in 1949, leaves his home in Kentucky to pursue work at General Motors in Detroit, Michigan. The singer assembles wheels on Cadillacs, watching each one roll by day after day on the assembly line, knowing that he will never be able to afford one.

Beginning almost immediately, he and a co-worker decide to steal a Cadillac, using their assembly line jobs to obtain the parts via salami slicing. He takes the small parts home hidden in his large lunchbox; larger parts are smuggled out in his co-worker's mobile home.

The process of accumulating all the necessary parts turns out to take over 24 years (the song mentions that the transmission was from 1953 and the engine was from 1973), but once they have what they think is a complete car, they assemble the pieces. The result is an odd-looking Cadillac created from parts of many different models and whose pieces don't fit together very well (for example, it had only one tail fin and three headlights, two on the left and one on the right).

The singer's wife is surprised at the outcome but wants a ride. However, the folks at the courthouse were not as pleased – it would take the "whole staff" to type up the vehicle title, which would end up weighing 60 pounds.

The song ends with a truck driver inquiring about the "psychobilly Cadillac". After saying that "you could say I went down to the factory and picked it up, it's cheaper that way", the reply echoes Leroy Van Dyke's song "The Auctioneer" as the owner lists all the model years (starting with '49 and continuing into the early 70s) that went into making the car.

In popular culture

  • Bruce Fitzpatrick, owner of Abernathy Auto Parts and Hilltop Auto Salvage in Nashville, TN, was asked by the promoters of the song to build the vehicle for international promotion. Fitzpatrick had all the models of Cadillacs mentioned in the song when it was released and built a car using the song as a model. The result was presented to Cash in April 1976. It was parked outside The House Of Cash[2] in Hendersonville, Tennessee, until someone could find a place to store it.
  • The song was covered by Chicago rock band Tub Ring for the 2001 Johnny Cash tribute album, Cash from Chaos.
  • The car from the "One Piece at a Time" video is at the Historic Auto Attractions museum in Roscoe, Illinois.
  • An attempt at building a vehicle "one piece at a time" was completed successfully over a five year period by a Chinese motorcycle assembly line worker in Chongqing.[3]


External links

Preceded by
"After All the Good is Gone"
by Conway Twitty
Billboard Hot Country Singles
number-one single

May 29-June 6, 1976
Succeeded by
"I'll Get Over You"
by Crystal Gayle
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single

June 19, 1976
Succeeded by
"El Paso City"
by Marty Robbins

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • One Piece at a Time — Álbum de Johnny Cash Publicación Mayo de 1976 Grabación 1976 Género(s) Country Duración …   Wikipedia Español

  • One Piece at a Time — Single par Johnny Cash extrait de l’album One Piece at a Time Sortie Mai 1976 Durée 4:00 Genre Rockabilly Parolier Wayne Kemp Producteur …   Wikipédia en Français

  • One Piece at a Time — Johnny Cash in dem von Fitzpatrick gebautem Wagen im April 1976. One Piece at a Time ist ein Countrysong, der von Wayne Kemp geschrieben und 1976 von Johnny Cash für sein gleichnamiges Album aufgenommen wurde. Produziert von Charlie Bragg und Don …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • One Piece at a Time (album) — One Piece at a Time Studio album by Johnny Cash Released May 1976 …   Wikipedia

  • One Piece — redirects here. For the clothing, see One piece swimsuit. One Piece First volume of One Piece, released in Japan by Shueisha on December 24, 1997 ONE PIEC …   Wikipedia

  • One Piece — ワンピース (Wan Pīsu) Género Aventura, Comedia dramática, Acción Manga Creado por Eiichirō Oda …   Wikipedia Español

  • One Piece — ワンピース (Wanpīsu) Type Shōnen Genre Nekketsu Thèmes …   Wikipédia en Français

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