If ever I catch a glimpse of American Idol or X-Factor or one of the other Simon Cowell talent shows, I always think of people like Johnny Cash and Neil Young and Lucinda Williams and Macy Gray and Joe Cocker; people who are/were fantastic artists, uniquely talented, prodigious songwriters (well, not Joe), but with voices that, on the face of it, would appear quite uncommercial; and I wonder what the judges would have said to them if they auditioned for the show.
It’s not that people on the Cowell-shows are lacking a tuneful voice. And it’s not that they don’t have talent. But, truly great artists have something more. There is a certain x-factor (‘cuse the pun) setting them apart from the rest. Johnny Cash is a case in point—a man whose music and personality are truly captivating.
san quentin i hate every part of you
On February 24th 1969, Johnny gave a concert for the inmates of San Quentin prison. It was recorded and became his 31st album release. His 30th album being the fabulous live Folsom Prison album.
A short while before the San Quentin concert, Johnny was handed the words of a poem written by comic poet, Shel Silverstein. He thought he’d try it out on the inmates. They loved it. The song was released as a single and became a hit around the world, peaking at #2 on the US singles chart.
The poem, A Boy Named Sue, was inspired by humourist Jean Shepherd, a close friend of Shel Silverstein, who was often taunted as a child because of his feminine-sounding name.
a boy named sue fax
- A Boy Named Sue was a poem written by Shel Silverstein.
- Johnny Cash recorded it for his Live At San Quentin album on February 24, 1969.
- Peaking at #2 on the US singles chart, A Boy Named Sue was Johnny’s highest charting hit—his only top ten single in the US. He did, however, have numerous top ten and #1 hits on the Country charts.
- Shel Silverstein also released a recording of “Boy Named Sue” in the same year as Johnny.
- When originally released, the song was censored. The words, “son of a bitch” were bleeped over and the final line was edited to remove the word “damn”.
- Shel Silverstein later wrote a follow-up named to A Boy Named Sue, called, The Father of a Boy Named Sue, telling the story from the point of view of Sue’s aging father.
- A Boy Named Sue lyrics.
a boy named sue – johnny cash – 1969 – video
a boy named sue – shel silverstein – 1969 – video
the father of a boy named sue – shel silverstein – video
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