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A Boy Named Sue

Låtskrivare: Shel Silverstein,; Artist: Johnny Cash (släppt 2 juli 1969)  ;
Countrylistan: #1 den 23 Augusti 1969 (#1 i 5 veckor);  Album: ‘At San Quentin’( juni 1969).

Shel Silverstein sägs ha fått idéen till låten från (den manliga) komikern Jean Shepherd och titeln kommer troligen ifrån (den manlige) advokaten Sue K Hicks som döptes efter sin mor då hon dog när han föddes.

Shel skrev texten ur Sue’s perspektiv när denne ville ha tag på mannen som gett honom en gitarr och namnet Sue.

Thank you
Well, my daddy left home
When I was three

And he didn’t leave very much to my ma and me
Except 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 my daddy ever did

Was before he left he wanted to
Name me Sue
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 turn 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
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 gave
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, mangy dog that named me Sue
Well I knew that snake was my own sweet dad
From a worn out picture that my mother had

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!»
Well, I hit him hard right
Between the eyes

And he went down but to my surprise
Came up with a knife and
Cut off a piece of my ear

Then 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
Well 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
And he reached 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.»
He said, «Now you just fought
One heck 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 gut
And the spit in the eye
‘Cause I’m the 😈👹
That named you Sue.»
Yeah, 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 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 boy
I’ll name him
Bill or George or Frank
Anything dam thing but Sue!
Hate that name

Johnny Cash hörde låten då Shel spelade den på en bar. June Carter Cash sa till Johnny att han skulle ha den och June övertalade honom att ta med låten på konserten på San Quentin i februari 1969. Han hann läsa texten ett par gånger men att få till melodin gick inte så bra. Han fick läsa texten och sjunga där det gick. Bandet med Carl Perkins hade inte övat så de improviserade.

Johnny Cash blev lite förvånad över responsen på fängelset. Men ännu mer förvånad hur singeln med framförandet på San Quentin togs emot över hela världen. Det kan faktiskt vara Johnny’s mest populära låt då den spridits över hela världen i större omfattning än övriga hits med Johnny – De var ju Country. 

När Johnny Cash framförde låten i Vita Huset i april 1970 hade han med sig en bleep-maskin som någon tryckte på när han sjöng ’Son of a Bitch’. Dessutom hade han blivit pappa igen så sista raden blev då

and if I ever have I son, I think I’m gonna name him John Carter Cash”.

Highwaymen spelade låten blev sista textraden

“and if I have another boy I Think I’m gonna name him Waylon or Willie or Kris.”

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