Video of the Week: Johnny Cash – A Boy Named Sue (Live at San Quentin, 1969)

Well, this is a bit of a turn-up. I didn’t think video existed of Johnny’s San Quentin performance, but here he is performing Shel Silverstein’s “A Boy Named Sue”, which became Cash’s biggest-ever chart single at #2 in 1969.

The song is obviously still new to Cash (he reads the lyrics as he sings) and a little under-rehearsed. He’s not always in sync with the band, but the performance–flubs and all–was released despite.

The days of the little mistakes making their way onto the album–even the hit single–are pretty much over. When people say artists like Cash and Dylan made “real” music, that included real mistakes.

Johnny Cash Holiday Message


The Twisted, Touching Story of Johnny and June and the ‘Ring of Fire’

You know “Ring of Fire” as a Johnny Cash song. But as Sarah Vowell explains, Johnny didn’t write it. June did. About Johnny. While she was married to someone else. Then her sister and her mother helped her sing it. It’s a song not about the fire of romance, but about hellfire.

And that’s why country music used to be cool.

Johnny Cash’s To-Do List

(Reprinted from Open Culture)

Johnny Cash wrote down at least two lists in his lifetime. Let’s start with the big one. In 1973, when his daughter Roseanne turned 18, the legendary musician pulled out a sheet of yellow legal paper and began writing down 100 Essential Country Songs, the songs she needed to know if she wanted to start her own musical career. The list, writes the website FolkWorks, didn’t construe country music narrowly. It was eclectic, taking in old folk songs, Appalachian ballads, and also protest songs, early country classics, and modern folks songs sung by artists like Bob Dylan. This essential list never went public, at least not in full. Roseanne Cash guarded it closely until 2009, when she released an album featuring interpretations of 12 titles from her father’s list. The other 88 songs still remain a mystery.

Now on to that other list: Somewhere along the way (we’re not sure when) The Man in Black jotted down 10 “Things to Do Today!” This list feels almost like something you and I could have written, the stuff of mortals. Heck, in a given day, we all “Cough,” “Eat” and “Pee.” We struggle with will power (not eating too much, perhaps not smoking, maybe not fooling around with anyone but our spouse). And we’re hopefully good to our loved ones. So what sets Johnny Cash apart from us? Just June and that piano.

Oh, and the fact that Johnny’s to-do list sold at auction for $6,250 in 2010.

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