Posted by David on March 29, 2007
The term 'walk the line' was not originated by Johnny Cash.
The term refers to convict exercise yards (circa 1700's to 1920's).
The prisoners had to walk around in a wide circle on a yellow (sometimes white) line painted on the ground for as long as exercise time permitted.
If any prisoner went to far astray from the line he was punished.
I would assume Johnny cash used this term in reference to his relationship in the song but I can assure you the saying predates the song by many, many years.
The terms 'walk the line' and 'walking the line' can be found in Port Arthur (a tasmanian convict prison) documents dating back to 1874.
Just wanted to clarify. Best, David