Top 10 “Story Songs” # 6 Johnny Cash (A Boy Named Sue)

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NUMBER 6…..

A Boy Named Sue – (Composer – Shel Silverstein)

Definitive version (Johnny Cash) 1969

Smells like mean spirit…….

You would be forgiven for assuming  “A Boy Named Sue” was written by Cash himself.  He owns the song from the first note. The song was written by Nashville Hall of Famer Shel Silverstein. But any version other than Cash’s is pointless. Not only one of the greatest story songs of all time, it would rank high on any ‘Greatest Father’s Day Song’ list as well. The “story song” requires an engrossing narrative and a payoff ending. “A Boy Named Sue” hits home runs on both counts. The fact that this tune was recorded live at San Quentin in 1969 in front of an ornery, rapturous, and captive (literally) audience, only adds to the allure of the perfect storm recording that conquered the Billboard country charts at # 1.  A novelty tune no doubt; but still one the finest “story songs” ever.

NOTE: Sadly no film version of the “San Quentin” performance exists. This spunky (albeit expurgated) Danish TV version will have to do…..