A BOY NAMED SUE

Recorded : February 24, 1969 @ San Quentin

Peak Chart Position: No. 1 Country, No. 2 Pop


Lyrics

Commentary from Johnny Cash:

I hadn't even had the chance to learn the lyrics. I thought then and I still think that it is the most cleverly written song that I have ever heard, and the rendition that you hear is that same one and only recording where I was reading the words off as I sang it. Maybe the recording doesn't have a lot of polish, but it sure has a lot of honesty -1970


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Lyrics: A Boy Named Sue

by Shel Silverstien


My daddy left home when I was three and he didn't leave much to ma and me Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze. Now, I don't blame him cause he run and hid But the meanest thing that he ever did Was before he left, he went and named me ``Sue."

Well, he must o' thought that it was quite a joke And it got a lot of laughs from a' lots of folk, It seems I had to fight my whole life through. Some gal would giggle and I'd get red And some guy'd laugh and I'd bust his head, I 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, I'd roam from town to town to hide my shame. But I made me a vow to the moon and stars That I'd search the honky-tonks and bars And kill that man that give me that awful name.

Well, it was Gatlinburg in mid-July And I 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, dealing 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'd had, And I knew that scar on his cheek and his evil eye. He was big and bent and gray 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, He come up with a knife and cut off a piece of my ear. But I busted a chair right across his teeth And we crashed through the wall and into the street Kicking and a' gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer.

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.

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 ya along. So I give ya 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 hell of a fight And I know you hate me, and you got the right To kill me now, and I wouldn't blame you if you do. But ya ought to thank me, before I die, For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye Cause I'm the son-of-a-bitch that named you `Sue.'''

I got all choked up and I threw down my gun And I called him my pa, and he called me his son, And I come 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 son, I think I'm gonna name him Bill or George! Anything but Sue! I still hate that name!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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