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Johnny Cash — A Boy Named Sue
Album: At San Quentin
Avg rating:
7.8

Your rating:
Total ratings: 773









Released: 1969
Length: 3:40
Plays (last 30 days): 1
Well, my daddy left home when I was three
And he didn't leave much to Ma and me
Just this ole guitar and an empty bottle of booze

Now, I don't blame him 'cause he run and hid
But the meanest thing that he ever did
Was before he left, he went and named me Sue

Well, he musta thought that it was quite a joke
And it got a lot of laughs from lots a folks
Seems I had to fight my whole life through

Some gal would giggle and I'd get red
And some guy'd laugh and I'd bust his head
I'll tell ya, life ain't easy for a boy named Sue

Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean
My fist got hard and my wits got keen
I roamed from town to town to hide my shame

But I made me a vow to the Moon and stars
I'd search the honky-tonks and bars
And kill that man that give me that awful name

Well, it was Gatlinburg in mid-July
And I'd just hit town and my throat was dry
I thought I'd stop and have myself a brew

At an old saloon on a street of mud
There at a table dealin' stud
Sat the dirty, mangey dog that named me Sue

Well I knew that snake was my own sweet dad
From a worn out picture that my mother had
And I knew that scar on his cheek and his evil eye

He was big and bent and grey and old
And I looked at him and my blood ran cold, and I said
"My name is Sue! How do you do? Now you gonna die!"
Yeah! That's what I told him

Well, I hit him hard right between the eyes
And he went down but to my surprise
Came up with a knife an' cut off a piece of my ear

I busted a chair right across his teeth
And we crashed through the wall and into the street
Kickin' and a-gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer

I tell ya, I've fought tougher men
But I really can't remember when
He kicked like a mule and he bit like a crocodile

Well, I heard him laugh and then I heard him cuss
He went for his gun but I pulled mine first
He stood there lookin' at me and I saw him smile

And he said, "Son, this world is rough
And if a man's gonna make it he's gotta be tough
And I know I wouldn't be there to help you along

So I gave you that name and I said goodbye
I knew you'd have to get tough or die
And it's that name that helped to make you strong"

Yeah! He said, "Now you just fought one hell of a fight
And I know you hate me and ya got the right
To kill me now and I wouldn't blame you if you do

But you oughta thank me before I die
For the gravel in your guts and the spit in the eye
'Cause I'm the son-of-a-bitch that named you Sue"
Yeah, what could I do? What could I do?

I got all choked up and threw down my gun
Called him my Pa and he called me his son
And I come away with a different point of view

And I think about him now and then
Every time I try and every time I win
And if I ever have a son, I think I'm gonna name him
Bill or George, any-damn-thing but Sue! I still hate that name!
Comments (113)add comment
I lessoned a bipppppppp 
Classic slice of Americana this.
Why censor this great song?
 Tony0600 wrote:
Awful - why is it being played on Paradise?
 
Maybe because your version of awful isn't the same as Bill's?  Maybe because there is a PSD button for the crybabies to avoid being so affronted? 

Maybe because it is NOT awful in the first place?
Why in the world are the lyrics bleeped out? Blasphemy!!
fishy1 noted Shel Silverstein wrote this song - among many others. Including 'Put Another Log on the Fire', a hit by Tompall Glaser.

Ol' Shel caught a lot of heat from the feminist movement over that one, even though it was actually pro-women.
Classic slice of Americana!
What Bill said.
 jukes1 wrote:
Wait... we got a bleeped version on RP? What the [bleep]?
 
That was very distracting. I'm pretty sure RP used to play an uncensored version... I wonder why it's censored now?
Wait... we got a bleeped version on RP? What the [bleep]?
 fishy1 wrote:
I'm not a big Cash fan. But, I am a fan of Shel Silverstein. This song inspired me to surf over to Wikipedia. This caught my attention: "Most notably, he wrote the music and lyrics for "A Boy Named Sue" that was performed by Johnny Cash (for which he won a Grammy in 1970); "One's On the Way" (which was a hit for Loretta Lynn), and "The Unicorn Song"; which, despite having nothing to do with Ireland nor Irish culture, became the signature piece for The Irish Rovers in 1968 and is popular in "Irish pubs" all over the world to this day" Kind of puts a kink into choosing one side of the pond over the other doesn't it?! fredriley wrote:
Damn right! I hit that barely 2 seconds into the intro. I've got nowt against Johnny Cash, but his songs do seem, over this side of The Pond, to be sung by lachrymose low-lives with tattooed necks and wearing smelly denims in grotty pubs and clubs. When I was a schoolboy we used to think that Johnny Cash was a Durex vending machine... :o)
 

Also Cover of the Rolling Stone and other stuff by Dr Hook that is great. There are a couple of great collections and tribute albums of his stuff… serious genius.
One teensy little nitpick - as soon as Sue's dad shoved off, why didn't his mother think "no boy of mine is going to be called Sue!" and change his name to something like Steve? ...still, doesn't stop it being an
This was very funny the first time I heard it, and Johnny Cash's deadpan delivery lifts it as high as any comedy song ever could be raised. It stayed amusing for the next twenty or so listens, caused a slight smile for the next fifty times, but I have to say that now it has started to rile me somewhat. There isn't enough going on melodically for me to keep on enjoying it now, I'm afraid... At least it's pretty short!
denmom wrote:
Oh honey, this is one of those things you've just got to roll with. It's absolutely true that this ain't high falutin' stuff, but so what? If you're into it, it's fun. And if you're not, live and be well, go for the mute and try not to be condescending.
Great words of advice!
yeah, Johnny Cash usually isn't my scene, but I can at least appreciate the clever lyrics.
I grew up in East Tennessee being forced to listen to "hillbilly" music by my parents. I hated it during Junior High and High School. But as I get older it's amazing how much hillbilly music gets better. I'll bet I haven't heard this in 20 years. Solid Country Music Gold now being marketed/masked as Americana. I love it! This gets a 10 from me.
funny followup to 'Rocky Racoon'!
Hard to rate this one. Clever lyrics and I always sorta liked it, but not really music IMO. I'm giving it an 8 on the Arlo Guthrie scale and a 4 on the RP scale
I guess that the Cash home in Hendersonville, TN burned down a month or two ago. And Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys lives on the same road and had this to say about the fire: "Maybe it's the good Lord's way to make sure that it was only Johnny's house." Couldn't have said it better myself.... https://edition.cnn.com/2007/US/04/10/cash.home.ap/
Whohoo! Oscar
Yup, I haven't heard it in at least a decade.. just sounds good tonight.. hated C&W as a kid, teen and in my 20s.. but as I got older started to enjoy some C&W esp Cash.. turning point was Nico..but I think I like this song as cheeze as it is .. it is pure Americana (sp?) So ready for some hard rock now.
I'm not a big Cash fan. But, I am a fan of Shel Silverstein. This song inspired me to surf over to Wikipedia. This caught my attention: "Most notably, he wrote the music and lyrics for "A Boy Named Sue" that was performed by Johnny Cash (for which he won a Grammy in 1970); "One's On the Way" (which was a hit for Loretta Lynn), and "The Unicorn Song"; which, despite having nothing to do with Ireland nor Irish culture, became the signature piece for The Irish Rovers in 1968 and is popular in "Irish pubs" all over the world to this day" Kind of puts a kink into choosing one side of the pond over the other doesn't it?! fredriley wrote:
Damn right! I hit that barely 2 seconds into the intro. I've got nowt against Johnny Cash, but his songs do seem, over this side of The Pond, to be sung by lachrymose low-lives with tattooed necks and wearing smelly denims in grotty pubs and clubs. When I was a schoolboy we used to think that Johnny Cash was a Durex vending machine... :o)
One of the few J Cash songs I like, but it was drummed into my head as a child....well that expalins it then! :lol:
Ho-Hum = 3
Love Johnny Cash, one of my favorite songs of his.
fredriley wrote:
Damn right! I hit that barely 2 seconds into the intro. I've got nowt against Johnny Cash, but his songs do seem, over this side of The Pond, to be sung by lachrymose low-lives with tattooed necks and wearing smelly denims in grotty pubs and clubs. When I was a schoolboy we used to think that Johnny Cash was a Durex vending machine... :o)
Oh honey, this is one of those things you've just got to roll with. It's absolutely true that this ain't high falutin' stuff, but so what? If you're into it, it's fun. And if you're not, live and be well, go for the mute and try not to be condescending.
kazuma wrote:
Yeah. It's terrible. I heard it a kajillion times growing up. Even when I was 10 years old, I thought it was one of the dumbest things I'd ever heard. Cash did a lot of great stuff, but this is the kind of junk that made him look like a big redneck bozo to my generation. You wouldn't know it now, but it took a long time (decades really) for Cash to recover his credibility with the non-Nashville crowd after putting out crap like this. Kinda like Merle Haggard and "Okie from Muskogee" ... great artist, horrendous song, mass appeal, and a huge mega-hit that tainted his rep with the non-redneck demographic for years to come. :doh:
Good analysis. I was going to write much the same thing but you saved me the trouble.
I like this live version better. Yes sirree.
One of Shel's and Johnny's best!
8 :cowboy:
I like the storytelling songs - I didn't hear this growing up, either, so when I found this on The Essential Johnny Cash CD, I flipped to it and had a good laugh at the story and at the ending.
soozbc wrote:
I've always hated this song and always will. Mute.
Yeah. It's terrible. I heard it a kajillion times growing up. Even when I was 10 years old, I thought it was one of the dumbest things I'd ever heard. Cash did a lot of great stuff, but this is the kind of junk that made him look like a big redneck bozo to my generation. You wouldn't know it now, but it took a long time (decades really) for Cash to recover his credibility with the non-Nashville crowd after putting out crap like this. Kinda like Merle Haggard and "Okie from Muskogee" ... great artist, horrendous song, mass appeal, and a huge mega-hit that tainted his rep with the non-redneck demographic for years to come. :doh:
:think: Interesting. I never even wondered who wrote this song. Shel freakin' Silverstein you say?!? :eh: Cool! :cool: Nice set, Bill!:
2:31 pm - John Hiatt - Your Dad Did 2:27 pm - Johnny Cash - A Boy Named Sue 2:23 pm - Beatles - Rocky Raccoon
fredriley wrote:
Damn right! I hit that barely 2 seconds into the intro. I've got nowt against Johnny Cash, but his songs do seem, over this side of The Pond, to be sung by lachrymose low-lives with tattooed necks and wearing smelly denims in grotty pubs and clubs. When I was a schoolboy we used to think that Johnny Cash was a Durex vending machine... :o)
Hm... I'm trying to decide if that was more ignorant than it was condescending, or the other way around. Smeg off you lousy, limey tea suckin' bastard!
MY NAME IS SUE, HOW DO YOU DO? NOW YOU GONNA DIE!
meydele wrote:
Apparently I am the only woman named "Sue" in America not to have heard this song growing up. I heard it for the first time on RP about 2 months ago. I think it's pretty darn funny, but of course I haven't heard it 7 gazillion times either. For those who dislike it: that's why they make a "mute" button.
Damn right! I hit that barely 2 seconds into the intro. I've got nowt against Johnny Cash, but his songs do seem, over this side of The Pond, to be sung by lachrymose low-lives with tattooed necks and wearing smelly denims in grotty pubs and clubs. When I was a schoolboy we used to think that Johnny Cash was a Durex vending machine... :o)
Apparently I am the only woman named "Sue" in America not to have heard this song growing up. I heard it for the first time on RP about 2 months ago. I think it's pretty darn funny, but of course I haven't heard it 7 gazillion times either. For those who dislike it: that's why they make a "mute" button.
the mud, the blood and the beer!
Quite. fredriley wrote:
AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH! I loathe this song and must have had it inflicted on me hundreds of times, even though the 'joke' went stale after the first playing. It's a real shame that we can't give minus ratings on RP as this would be -10 at least :((
Paul_in_Australia wrote:
Cash's song was, is and always will be regarded by non-Americans as worse than Bowie's egregious Gnomesong.
Just proved you wrong.
You know this is a fun song but it wasn't until "Walk the Line" came out that I realized that Cash really was a rock star in his day.
Excellent stuff, Bill. RIP JC.
AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH! I loathe this song and must have had it inflicted on me hundreds of times, even though the 'joke' went stale after the first playing. It's a real shame that we can't give minus ratings on RP as this would be -10 at least :((
Great stuff, absolutely godlike, that's all there is to it.
One of the more popular country bar Cash songs...shooting pool, doin' shots, and playin' juke box :drunk:
cash has a good voice
Dire. Musically, The Laughing Gnome by David Bowie has more merit. Bowie released the anti-War classic in 1967 and it rapidly became a rallying cry for millions who rejected America's war in Vietnam. With its meaningful lyrics and rousing chorus, Bowie's song could be heard echoing around the cities of Europe in the 'year of the barricades' of 1968, as students and protesters held candle lit vigils with the strains of Bowie's classic reverberating into every street, every bar and every heart. The peaceful message of the Gnomes -play hide and seek and be happy- was a rallying call for millions who are rejected America's obsession with violent conflict, so elegantly expressed in Cash's vacuous 'novelty song', featuring knives, guns and attempted patricide. I made this up, but Cash's song was, is and always will be regarded by non-Americans as worse than Bowie's egregious Gnomesong.
Mugro wrote:
The part I like most about this picture is the story behind it. Apparently during the soundcheck the photographer requested a "shot for the warden" - I'm sure the message was received loud and clear.
Awful - why is it being played on Paradise?
classic (laugh track ?? pillock)
hcaudill wrote:
Is that a laugh track? sounds fake.
Live audience at Folsom Prison. Go watch the movie.
hcaudill wrote:
Is that a laugh track? sounds fake.
If you look at the album name, you will find your answer.
Is that a laugh track? sounds fake.
I've always hated this song and always will. Mute.
:eek:
olsaltybastard wrote:
One of THE most amusing songs I have ever heard (yes it's my first time!) What a great story too!
too funny! i first heard this song when it was released on radio many moons ago- i think i was about 12 years old. loved it then and love it now.
Ick
Rocky Racoon, A Boy Named Sue, please don't play Alice's Restaurant next... :stop:
Another tune about absent fathers
Mugro wrote:
Love that picture. And love this little rockabilly set to kick off the weekend. 9:44 am - Hellecasters - Peter Gunn 9:42 am - Beat Farmers - California Kid 9:38 am - Johnny Cash - A Boy Named Sue
woozurdaddy wrote:
Johnny's tongue firmly planted in cheek here...
You have Johnny Cash's tongue firmly planted in your cheek there?! :roflol: :puke:
jayvee2 wrote:
Really need to give credit to Shel Silverstein for such great lyrics. It's one of those songs that NOBODY better EVER try to remake!
I had no idea....but now that you say his name, how can it NOT be Shel Silverstein?!
It's weird to think that this was my first exposure to Johnny Cash! I'm glad I got to know more of his music than this!
love Love LOVE the man in black. :bananajam: :bananajam: :bananajam:
a classic :notworthy:
IceNine wrote:
I love this song. Cash's delivery on this is excellent. But let's not forget to acknowledge the man who wrote these words, Mr. Shel Silverstein.
Although more famous for The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends, Silverstein also penned Dr. Hook's The Cover of the Rolling Stone.
Really need to give credit to Shel Silverstein for such great lyrics. It's one of those songs that NOBODY better EVER try to remake!
RedPR wrote:
I love this one! HOw DO YOU DO?
NOW YOU GONNA DIE!
Art_Carnage wrote:
Haven't heard this in ages. Johnny Cash is about the last person in the world you'd expect a novelty song from. Glad to see this is the "un-bleeped" version.
When I was young I thought he was about as uncool as possible now I see ALL his songs are novelty godlike- WOW! I am a convert.
One of THE most amusing songs I have ever heard (yes it's my first time!) What a great story too!
Haven't heard this in ages. Johnny Cash is about the last person in the world you'd expect a novelty song from. Glad to see this is the "un-bleeped" version.
Well that put a smile on my face and put me in the proper "Friday" frame of mind. Thanks Bill!
Not much of a Cash fan, but I do like this one
Thanks.
I love this one! HOw DO YOU DO?
I love this song. Cash's delivery on this is excellent. But let's not forget to acknowledge the man who wrote these words, Mr. Shel Silverstein.
A silly song, but fun.
I Love this Tune .... My Dad played that album and Ray Charles over and over and over again Oh and Sink the Bizmark ...
AliGator wrote:
Excellent intro, Bill! :clap:
I agree - and I felt the same way Bill did - this was a real stand out for the country/western genre.
JrzyTmata wrote:
this is the first Johnny Cash song I remember hearing as a kid. I like it!
Me, too. Ah...the memories...
I'm not much of a Cash fan, but I'll grant you this one Bill....only because I remember it from my mom's juke box. .......and its reminicent of "hot rod Lincoln"
ScottFromWyoming wrote:
:yell: How DO you DO?! :lol:
Now you're gonna die!!!
Classic!!!
The lost art of storytelling, Johnny was one of the best!
I agree...great intro to the song, Bill... This song is a perfect picture of what Country should be. None of this pop-music-with-a-twang garbage from Shania Twang and the like.
:yell: How DO you DO?! :lol:
Excellent intro, Bill! :clap:
My mom was a BIG fan of Johnny Cash and bought the Folsom Prison album. Excellent.
Schmackdown wrote:
I find a lot of people(me included) that say they hate country music don't mind tracks like this, or a lot of older country music in general. It's the modern stuff that's god-awful. Tracks like this one and "one piece at a time" are simple, clean, and fun.
I'm with you, man. I think the thing is that most modern country music is just as terrible as most of the stuff that you hear on mainstream "rock" radio these days. In both cases, the music is far more pop-oriented than anything else. There's nothing "rock'n'roll" about most rock music on FM, and likewise there's nothing "country" about most country music on FM. this, on the other hand, is pure classic.
Originally Posted by Schmackdown: I find a lot of people(me included) that say they hate country music don't mind tracks like this, or a lot of older country music in general. It's the modern stuff that's god-awful. Tracks like this one and "one piece at a time" are simple, clean, and fun.
i agree :D
I find a lot of people(me included) that say they hate country music don\'t mind tracks like this, or a lot of older country music in general. It\'s the modern stuff that\'s god-awful. Tracks like this one and \"one piece at a time\" are simple, clean, and fun.
like his "later" stuff better...imagine that :-s
Originally Posted by Pipes: Johnny at his finest! :notworthy:
Definately, and probably the only Johnny Cash song in the RP playlist that I actually enjoy and that I can't imagine being done better by someone else. Takes advantage of his personality, and his tendancy to speak in an approximate tone rather than actually sing works here. Also the brisk stacatto delivery avoids all those horrible variations in pitch that result when he has to sustain a whole note.
Yes, Cash is a legend, and this song is a big part of his ouevre, but it is basically just a novelty song.
Gotta love Shel\'s lyrics... :) --d
I liked the jazz version better... :D
A TRUE legend! :notworthy:
Dam he is one creative guy! that\'s all i have to say!
Awesome - no one can tell a story like the man in black... My name is Sue... HOW DO YOU DO?!
Sounded a lot like Crazeology to me??
This sounds more like Thelonious Monk than Johnny Cash. Sounds great, but I was looking forward to hearing My name is Sue! How do you do? Now you gonna die!
Johnny at his finest! :notworthy:
The engineer could have gotten a better mix on the vocals, but other than that ...
Silent Sue
The Man in Black: the lost be-bop years. The man\'s talent knows no limits.
Best damn Cash track I ever heard...more! more! more! :p
Wow what an innovator. This must be the session with Miles?... Ray Brown? The lost session. And yes we are paying attention sir.
This ain\'t no Johnny Cash.... (pimp)
Wow. Johnny kicks ass on drums!
this is the first Johnny Cash song I remember hearing as a kid. I like it!
Pretty bold to play jazz for the hardened crew at San Quentin. The Man in Black has cojones.
This can\'t be Johnny Cash. Someone has kidnapped Bill.