Thursday, August 16, 2012

Johnny Cash Was Funny

I don't care what kind of music you prefer, you'll enjoy Johnny Cash when you listen to his music.  He crosses boundaries with his songs -- and even extends into comedy.

In my opinion, Cash's best album is the live recording of his 1968 trip to Folsom Prison ("At Folsom Prison").  On it are two songs that always make me laugh.  Here are their lyrics -- I defy you to read them without chuckling.

JOE BEAN

They're hanging Joe Bean this morning, for killing a man in Arkansas.  Funny thing about it, Joe Bean has never been to Arkansas.  On top of that, Joe Bean never heard of the man.  In fact, today is Joe Bean's twentieth birthday.

See through the prison bars, Joe Bean, see where the gallows stand.  Just twenty short years from the day you were born, you will die by the hangman's hand.

Yes, they're hanging Joe Bean this morning, for a shooting that he never did.  He killed 20 men, by the time he was 10.  He was an unruly kid.

Yes, they're hanging Joe Bean for the one shooting that Joe Bean never did.

Well, Joe -- your mother is at the Capitol, asking the Governor for a stay.  And it's hard on her, 'cause she knows where you were, on that particular day.  You were working, Joe Bean, hard working, robbing the Santa Fe.

Well, the telegraph wires are humming.  Here, the governor's words come through.  He said, "I can't set you free, it's not up to me, but this much, Joe Bean, I'll do.  I'll join your mother in extending birthday greetings to you.  Happy Birthday, Joe Bean."


On a second tune, Johnny plays with metaphors:

FLUSHED FROM THE BATHROOM OF YOUR HEART

From the back door of your life, you swept me out dear
In the bread line of your dreams, I lost my place
At the table of your love, I got the brush off
At the Indianapolis of your heart, I lost the race

I've been washed down the sink of your conscience
In the theater of your love, I lost my part
And now you say, "You've got me out of your conscience"
I've been flushed from the bathroom of your heart

In the garbage disposal of your dreams, I've been ground up dear
On the river of your plans, I'm up the creek
Up the elevator of your future, I've been shafted
On the calendar of your events, I'm last week

I've been washed down the sink of your conscience
In the theater of your love, I lost my part
And now you say, "You've got me out of your conscience"
I've been flushed from the bathroom of your heart

14 comments:

  1. oh, I love Johnny Cash! He's one of the greatest! I love his songs, songs he covered etc. Not taking the lyrics his voice makes you feel stumbled.

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  2. We love some Johnny Cash at our house! He really had some great songs and some great lyrics. We like the song "Delia" and when he did the cover of Nine Inch Nails "Hurt"

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  3. I love Johnny Cash. His Cover of Hurt always makes me cry, it's so powefull.

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  4. I love Johnny Cash!
    Have a fab Thursday Hun xoxo
    http://www.intotheblonde.com/
    Vote intotheblonde BEST LIFESTYLE BLOG in the Cosmo Blog Awards 2012
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  5. I have always liked Johnny Cash. I saw him at the Grand Ole Opry in 1970 when he had his TV show. My favorite songs are Hurt and Ring of Fire. The video he did of Hurt was so haunting.

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  6. I love Johnny Cash. He was probably the first celebrity I actually cried for when he died. I think it comes from growing up in Nashville. There's even a Johnny Cash Boulevard around here. My favorites were Walk The Line and Boy Named Sue.

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  7. These lyrics are so poignant! My daughter introduced me to him. His authenticity reverberates through time!!! Oh yeah, relative to your previous post, I think tunic length and a mirror are key. Also, occasion, ya know?

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  8. There's no humour like dry humour, and he was an incredible storyteller. I have a soft spot for the trumpets on Ring of Fire.

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  9. The only Johnny Cash song I thought of when I started reading this post was, "My Name is Sue." I've never paid much attention to his other works. But you're right, those lyrics are good. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. The irony is -- Cash wrote most all of his songs, but he didn't write "My Name Is Sue." It was a novelty written by someone else. Most people, like you, associate the song with him.

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  10. I LOVE Johnny Cash. His lyrics are just phenomenal, and his voice? totally epic.

    ♥ laura
    the blog of worldly delights
    the shop of worldly delights

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  11. I love his music but had never closely paid attention to the lyrics. Very detailed and interesting.

    Daphne.

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  12. He certainly is a legend and my hubby, son and I all love his music. Thanks for sharing your insights.

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