Friday, July 3, 2009

"Cash"-ing It In For The 4th of July

I just heard on the radio that 40 years ago yesterday, July 2, that one of Johnny Cash's songs hit #1. Being a bit of a fan of the man in black, my ears perked up. Awaiting the announcer to tell me which one it was, I guessed, "Walk the Line"? No, no...what about "Ring of Fire"? No, that can't be it. Then the radio DJ played "A Boy Named Sue". WOW!! 1969 was the year he recorded it. Live at San Quentin Prison. The song became Cash's biggest hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, spending three weeks at #2 in 1969; it also topped the country music and adult contemporary charts that same year.

Johnny wrote this song with American author, poet, musician, and songwriter, Shel Silverstein ("Where the Sidewalk Ends" and "A Light In The Attic", just to name a couple of his most loved works - of course!). I LOVE "A Boy Named Sue". It is so quirky.

The best way to describe it is to just take the description from Wikipedia, who details:

"("A Boy Named Sue") tells the preposterous yet moving tale of a young man's quest for revenge on an absent father whose only contribution to his entire life was naming him Sue, commonly a feminine name. The name was the cause of endless ridicule as the young man was growing up. As the years went on, Sue grew big, strong and fearsome from all the fights he got into with bullies.
At the climax of the song, Sue finds and confronts his father, and the two get into a vicious brawl. After the two have beaten each other almost senseless, Sue's father admits that the name was given to him as an act of love: because he knew he would not be there for his son, Sue's father gave him that name to make sure that he grew up strong. Learning this, Sue forgives his father and they have an emotional reconciliation.

With his lesson learned, Sue closes the song with an announcement: "And if I ever have a son, I think I'm gonna name him . . . Bill or George, any damn thing but Sue! I still hate that name!"

Late 1960s public decorum being what it was, the word "bitch" in the line "I'm the son-of-a-bitch that named you Sue!" (declared by Sue's father) was censored in the radio version, and the final line was edited to take out the "damn". Both the edited and unedited versions are available on various CDs."

They played the bleeeep for the b-word on the radio station that I listened to - but they left the d-one in. Times have changed...

And speaking of Johnny Cash....his "Ragged Old Flag" brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. I know this will make today's entry VERY long but, in the spirit of Old Glory, please bear with me - it is SO worth it:

Ragged Old Flag - by Johnny Cash

I walked through a county courthouse square
On a park bench, an old man was sittin' there.
I said, "Your old court house is kinda run down",
He said, "Naw, it'll do for our little town".
I said, "Your old flag pole is leaned a little bit",
And that's a ragged old flag you got hangin' on it".
He said, "Have a seat", and I sat down.

"Is this the first time you've been to our little town?"
I said, "I think it is"
He said "I don't like to brag, but we're kinda proud of
That Ragged Old Flag.
You see, we got a little hole in that flag there,
When Washington took it across the Delaware.
And It got powder burned the night
Francis Scott Key sat watching it, writing
'Say Can You See'
It got a rip in New Orleans, with Packingham & Jackson
Tugging at its seams and
It almost fell at the Alamo beside the Texas flag,
But she waved on though.
She got cut with a sword at Chancellorsville,
And she got cut again at Shiloh Hill.
There was Robert E. Lee and Beauregard and Bragg,
And the south wind blew hard on
That Ragged Old Flag.
On Flanders Field in World War I,
She got a big hole from a Bertha Gun,
She turned blood red in World War II.
She hung limp, and low, a time or two,
She was in Korea, Vietnam,
She went where she was sent by her Uncle Sam.
She waved from our ships upon the briny foam."

"And now they've about quit wavin' back here at home.
In her own good land here She's been abused.
She's been burned, dishonored, denied an' refused."

"And the government for which she stands
Has been scandalized throughout out the land.
And she's getting thread bare, and she's wearin' thin,
But she's in good shape, for the shape she's in.
Cause she's been through the fire before
And I believe she can take a whole lot more."

"So we raise her up every morning
And we bring her down slow every night,
We don't let her touch the ground,
And we fold her up right.
On second thought
I *do* like to brag
Cause I'm mighty proud ofThat Ragged Old Flag."

So celebrate the holiday weekend with adding Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue" and "Ragged Old Flag" to your MP3 list and play it loud and proud this 4th of July.....because is there anything much more American than Johnny Cash??

Happy Birthday, America!
Until next time, I remain....1SweetMama


John Vander Stelt said...

Johnny Cash, an American original. I'm a big fan too. And his birthday and mine are the same! February 26. Thanks for your post today. Nice job, Angie.

Matthew said...

Well done Angie. I'm really enjoying your blog. I haven't thought of A Boy Named Sue, or Ragged Old Flag in years. Thanks for the flashback.

1SweetMama said...

Thanks for the nice comments. Johnny Cash...a real American Original. Glad you all are enjoying my blogs. Keep reading...and pass it along!