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A Boy Named Sue

A Boy Named Sue

by Johnny Cash

A Boy Named Sue Introduction

There may be worse things in life than getting a terrible name, but that's probably not much of a comfort to people with unfortunate appellations. We were lucky and got "Shmoop" (phew!), but the poor little boy in this song gets "Sue"... and has to live with the consequences. Written by Shel Silverstein of Where the Sidewalk Ends fame, this song provides healthy doses of humor, action, family drama, and life-lesson-learning. Johnny Cash performed it for the first time at a prison in 1969, to a whole lot of enthusiastic laughter and cheering from his inmate audience. We've got to agree with the prisoners on this one - what with Cash's famous gravelly voice and the zany plot, this song's a keeper. (Even if the name of the title character isn't.)

About the Song

ArtistJohnny Cash Musician(s)Johnny Cash
AlbumAt San Quentin
Year1969
LabelColumbia Records
Writer(s)Shel Silverstein
Producer(s)Bob Johnston
Learn to play: Chords
Buy this song: Amazon iTunes
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Shmoop Connections

Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
Maybe Johnny Cash isn't the first person who comes to mind when you think of the 1960s, but the Beatles and Stones weren't the only musicians gaining worldwide acclaim during the decade. The late 1960s marked the height of Cash's career, and his popularity really was huge. Since then, he's gone down as a country music legend. Or a rock and roll legend, or a blues music legend, depending on who you ask. Any way you slice it, Johnny Cash is one of the most important American musicians, ever.

On the Charts

#2 on the Billboard Top 100 for three weeks

Top of the Country Chart in 1969

Top of the Adult Contemporary charts

Johnny Cash's biggest hit; longest time spent at the top of the Billboard chart

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