Sunday, December 17, 2006

Johnny Cash at San Quentin- crime and punishment

More than just a legendary concert recording, Johnny Cash's show at San Quentin prison in early 1969 also provided footage for one of the starkest, most harrowing films ever made. It also happened to be the show where he had the premiere of what was to be a number 1 hit, the novelty "A Boy Named Sue."

The reissue (on Columbia/Legacy) includes whole show, including numbers from Carl Perkins, Carter Family and Statler Brothers, which gives you a real feeling of a variety show along with the raucous concert that Cash gave for the inmates, not long after his famous Folsom prison gig. As with that gig, Cash had a song prepped about San Quentin that wasn't exactly complimentary.

What makes the 2-CD box set even more special is the inclusion of the long out-of-print hour-long UK documentary about the concert. It's not just seeing Cash in the flesh in prime form that makes it so unique but also the interviews that the crew does with the prisoners and guards. Dead Man Walking is usually regarded as the most cold-eyed look at the idea of the death penalty but it's only a close second after the Cash film. Listening to the prisoners talk about their bloody crimes in such a casual manner and tales of men being dragged kicking and screaming to the big chair (reminiscent of James Cagney in Angels With Dirty Faces except that these guys aren't putting on an act) isn't something you'll soon forget. Savor the concert and witness chills from the film.

See a clip from Sony Records (Windows Media format) about the making of the concert and reissue.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Johnny Cash passed away the day my family and I moved into our new house. Consequently, we named the music room, "The Cash Room," in his honor.

Here, from my CD of original Johnny Cash tribute songs, is a duet I wrote called:

The Ballad of Johnny and June
Dr BLT ft. Alyssa Kaes
words and music by Dr. BLT (c) 2007

Here's a tribute based on one of Johnny's own big hits:

(We) Still Miss Someone
new words by Dr. BLT (c) 2007

5:52 PM  
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