Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Original Lyrics to Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” BY ERIC S. DONALDSON

Johnny Cash was an artist who was famous for bucking the system, for always writing songs in his own style. But did you know that one particular Johnny Cash song was changed due to pressure from the record company? Originally Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” didn’t have the saccharine happy ending as the version we’ve all come to know. Following are the original, rarely-seen lyrics to the classic hit.
The song is about a boy whose father left him at a very young age, but not before saddling him with the name “Sue”. The lyrics are the same for the entire first section of the song. But after the protagonist meets his father, the original lyrics are quite a bit different. Finally we can see the original, true version of Johnny Cash’s great work before the busybodies and censors took their scissors to it.
You can see the recorded version of the lyrics in full here for comparison: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/johnnycash/aboynamedsue.html
The changed lyrics start right after this stanza of the song:
“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. “

-Johnny Cash, A Boy Named Sue (recorded version)
The original lyrics that ended the song:
And he said, “Son, the fact that Sue’s your name
Is not my fault, I can’t take the blame
And your mother’s just as complicit as anyone
It’s not my fault she was such a fool
When she signed you up to go to school
And actually wrote that name on the stupid form
“It’s not that hard to get your name changed
As long as you’ve got the court fees arranged
Or you could have just used your first initial “S”
And when people asked you what the S stood for,
You coulda just lied and said “Steve” or ignored
‘em and your life would be better than you’d ever guess
“The reason “Sue” is on your record of birth
Was a transcription error by the nurse
Did you ever find it strange your middle name is “Perman?”
And it’s obvious that you’re not-so-bright
If you went by “Sue” your entire life
You’re a dillweed and a pud who I can’t stand”
So I looked my pa right in the eye
My eyes got moist, and I started to cry
And then I slit him neck to nuts before he could speak again
And I think about him, now and then
As I mail his viscera to every congressman
And if I ever have a son, I think I’m gonna name him…
Nancy or Bill or Slipstream Yip Yeehaw!

Eric S. Donaldson is a comedian, singer & songwriter from Pittsburgh, PA - he has LOTS more funny blogs & musings at EricSDonaldson.com

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