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Johnny Cash performs "A Boy Named Sue "

"A Boy Named Sue" is a song written by humorist and poet Shel Silverstein and made popular by Johnny Cash. Cash recorded the song live in concert on February 24, 1969 at California's San Quentin State Prison for his At San Quentin album. Cash also performed the song (with comical variations on the original performance) in December 1969 at Madison Square Garden. The live San Quentin version of the song became Cash's biggest hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and his only top ten single there, spending three weeks at No. 2 in 1969, held out of the top spot by "Honky Tonk Women" by The Rolling Stones. The track also topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs and Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks charts that same year and was certified Gold on August 14, 1969, by the RIAA.

Johnny Cash - A Boy Named Sue Lyrics

 

My daddy left home when I was three

And he didn’t leave much to ma and me

Just this old 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 must o’ thought that is quite a joke

And it got a lot of laughs from a’ lots of folk,

It 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 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’d roam from town to town to hide my shame.

But I made a vow to the moon and stars

That I’d search the honky-tonks and bars

And kill that man who gave me that awful name.

 

Well, it was Gatlinburg in mid-July

And I 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, dealing stud,

Sat the dirty, mangy dog that named me “Sue”.

 

Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad

From a worn-out picture that my mother’d had,

And I knew that scar on his cheek and his evil eye.

He was big and bent and gray 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’re gonna die!”

 

Well, I hit him hard right between the eyes

And he went down, but to my surprise,

He come up with a knife and cut off a piece of my ear.

But I busted a chair right across his teeth

And we crashed through the wall and into the street

Kicking and a’ gouging 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.

I heard him laugh and then I heard him cuss,

He went for his gun and 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 knew I wouldn’t be there to help ya along.

So I give ya that name and I said goodbye

I knew you’d have to get tough or die

And it’s the name that helped to make you strong.”

 

He said, “Now you just fought one hell of a fight

And I know you hate me, and you got the right

To kill me now, and I wouldn’t blame you if you do.

But ya ought to thank me, before I die,

For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye

Cause I’m the son of a bitch that named you ‘Sue’.”

 

I got all choked up and I threw down my gun

And I called him my pa, and he called me his son,

And I came 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! Anything but Sue! I still hate that name!


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