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Song of the Day: Johnny Cash, “A Boy Named Sue”

My mom was a big Johnny Cash fan, and I was regularly subjected to At Folsom Prison during my childhood. I developed a bit of a phobia around a couple of the songs, which seemed too intense and disturbing to my very young mind – like that bit in “Folsom Prison Blues” where Cash sings “I shot a man in Reno / Just to watch him die.” After a few visits to an actual prison – San Quentin in fact, which Cash later sang at in another album – all the prison songs seemed too intense to me and the whole album made me a bit uncomfortable.

I can listen to the whole thing now, and do, with great pleasure, but even when i was little I loved this song. It’s perfect for kids – maybe The Wiggles or Raffi will cover it one of these days… Or maybe not – it does have a real badass quality to it.

Johnny Cash, “A Boy Named Sue” – from At Folsom Prison (1968)

It’s brilliant. Funny, sharp and rollicking.

Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison & San Quentin: Johnny Cash had been breaking new ground for a decade when At Folsom Prison suddenly made the world at large take notice. The interaction of a volatile prison population starved for entertainment and a desperately on-form Johnny Cash was electrifying. His somber machismo finally found a home. The songs, which included every prison song Cash knew (“I Got Stripes,” “The Wall,” “25 Minutes to Go,” “Cocaine Blues,” plus his own “Folsom Prison Blues”) were tailored to galvanize the crowd. This set is all about atmosphere. Live at the Grand Ole Opry this ain’t. (via A small selection of whatever fills my head!)

For more…

Filed under: Song of the Day, ,

Song of the Day: “She’s Already Made Up Her Mind”

And since we are back in heartbreak territory…

Lyle Lovett, “She’s Already Made Up Her Mind” – from Joshua Judges Ruth (1992)

It’s a strange thing. You go through life thinking you don’t like country music, then you go to the record store to pick up some Lyle Lovett and Gillian Welch and they send you to… the country section. It’s a real shock. Of course, you’d always made an exception for the Man in Black, but this is… Well, it’s just hard. It shakes your world view, having to go to the country section.

The album this song is from – Joshua Judges Ruth – came out one year before Lovett’s marriage to Julia Roberts, so I’ve often wondered who it might be about. Just as I wonder, listening to some more recent Sheryl Crow, if any of the songs have to do with Lance Armstrong… But to get back to that complaint I made earlier about how few rock songs just tell stories, maybe these songs don’t have any autobiographical elements, maybe they’re just stories.

One last thought: when Roberts and Lovett married, people made all sorts of comments about “Beauty and the Beast,” but I actually think Lovett looks quite lovely here in this video, in a quirky and intellectual sort of way.

Filed under: Song of the Day, , ,

Song of the Day: One for Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and too much of Texas and Arizona

Plus ca change, plus ce la meme chose…

John Prine, “Your flag decal won’t get you into heaven anymore” – from the album John Prine (1971)

But your flag decal won’t get you
Into Heaven any more.
They’re already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don’t like killin’
No matter what the reason’s for,
And your flag decal won’t get you
Into Heaven any more.


John Prine (born October 10, 1946, in Maywood, Illinois) is an American country/folk singer-songwriter. He has been active as a recording artist and live performer since the early 1970s… (via Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Filed under: Politics, Song of the Day, ,



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zerode by nick chapman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.


What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.

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