They Shot a Man in Reno, Just to Watch Him Die

Dotty Z said it well at Bubblegum Culture:

Where are the Patsy Clines, Willie Nelsons, Johnny Cashes, Tammy Wynettes and Hank Juniors of our time? Are today’s country performers too afraid of backlash from the conservatives who buy their music to sing about anything real? For the love of Dolly, can we get some real country music and ban all these washed up pop tarts from further bastardizing our beloved genre?

I hear you, Dotty, I hear you.  I took your outrage to heart last night and decided to download Johnny Cash’s best tune, “Folsom Prison Blues,” from iTunes.  When I did, I was shocked to learn that two studio versions of the song topped the live version at Folsom Prison in download popularity.  WTF, iTunes customers?  How often is a counterculture icon allowed inside a prison to sing anti-prison anthems to the inmates?  How perfect a country music song is “Folsom Prison Blues?”  It has trains, mama, and prison (although you’re right, David Allen Coe, it doesn’t have trucks or gettin’ drunk, so I guess you win).

Listen, people, if you’re gonna own a song about shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die, you might as well get the version that allows you to listen to the prisoners who probably did some shootin’ of their own, whoopin’ it up in the background while the Man in Black gives ’em what they want.  I couldn’t find the Folsom Prison version on YouTube, but I think the San Quentin performance at the top of the post pretty well conveys what I’m getting at.

Now if we could just arrange for Jessica Simpson to perform her new cuntry album at Rikers Island, I could die a happy woman.

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3 Responses to “They Shot a Man in Reno, Just to Watch Him Die”

  1. AGreenEyeDevil Says:

    Old school country rules! These folks were genuine entertainers with credible voices, harmony, instrument skills, and song-writing ability. What you got in a concert was just as good as what was on the radio or turntable at home. I don’t think it comes any better than Johnny and June delivering a rock solid “Jackson”….Enjoy!

  2. dorothyzbornak Says:

    I refuse to listen to any version of this song (which is my fave Cash tune, BTW) without the sounds of prisoners’ cheers. That makes the fucking song! The “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash,” followed by their cheers and then the first riffs of the song? Gives me chills every time.

    Also, last night I couldn’t sleep, so I watched a bit of the TV movie version of “Stagecoach,” starring Johnny, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, DAC and others. I gotta get that on DVD. I mean, it’s slightly cheesy, but in a completely awesome way.

  3. The Mayor of Bethville Says:

    Woo hoo, Myrtle! This is terrific. And so true, DZ. The Dixie Chicks “anti-American” backlash made me so angry. Somewhere along the way, country music lost its balls. AND its sentimentality. And it was those two things together that made country music so great.

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