Recognize this face? Yup, it’s the one and only Shel Silverstein, the one who gave us the thumbsucking epidemic song I took a look at earlier last month. Shel may be one of the weirdest guys I’ve met since my classmates on Backwards Day. Anyway, Shel’s got a lucky thumb to A) not to be sucked, and B) to get another spot on T4T, this time for his timeless song “A Boy Named Sue”.

This song was so popular, its name even had to be in the name of this album, where the song came from.

“…my name is Sue! How do you do? Now you’re gonna die!”

Surprisingly enough, “A Boy Named Sue” (also incorrectly referred to as “Boy Named Sue“) is not entirely of Shel’s work. He was just the writer of the song, the real user of this song (besides Shel) being Johnny Cash on his 1969 live album, At San Quentin. It has to be one the weirdest, funniest, and most violent songs I’ve ever listened since Avenged Sevenfold’s “Beast and the Harlot” went to the Guitar Hero 2 track list. The album A Boy Named Sue and his Country Songs coincidentally released the same year of Cash’s live album, both scoring Grammy Awards for their versions of the song in the process.

The storyline revolves around…well, title says all, a boy named Sue. Named as a joke by his father, he becomes the laughingstock of the area, but he’s the one that gets to the last laugh when he grows up to be a hard-hitting master of mass destruction, even beating up his own father as a revenge plan. The song is very groovy especially for one of Shel’s works, and especially deserves to be recited by a bored farmer in a rocking chair.

0 out of 5 – Positive messages – The song being revolved around violence for the most part, this song lacks any positive messages whatsoever.

1 out of 5 – Positive role models – Sue does show good examples of bravery, standing up against the toughest of moments revolving around that dastardly name.

4 out of 5 – Violence – Have you been listening to all that I’ve been talking about so far? “A Boy Named Sue” gives violence a new name, and I still can’t believe they got that crazy back in the sixties!

  • Sue narrates that if a guy laughed at his name, he’d bust his head.
  • Upon seeing and recognizing his long-lost dad, he simply beats him up, throwing a chair across his teeth, giving him a haymaker between the eyes, and almost threatening to kill him if his profound love didn’t change him. His father also extremely violently rebounds, knifing off some of his ear.
  • At the very end of the song, Sue lashes out against his name, and his reactions to it if he ever heard or saw it, or his father, again.

1 1/2 out of 5 – Inappropriate Content (saying the S word would be vulgar) – Besides violence, the only thing that’s not really appropriate, or nice, is the gender shaming and male stereotypical themes this song has.

2 out of 5 – Language – The worst word encountered isn’t even dirty, but it’s “heck.” Shel did a good job of replacing Cash’s dirty lyrics with new, clean ones. The two points of language points to Cash’s version of the song this time, ranging from “son-of-a-B word” to the H word.

1 out of 5 – Product Placement – Shel was one of the 60s’ most famed artists in almost every category on the stardom ladder. Music, books, movies, you name it, he’s stuck his head into it.

1 out of 5 – Drinking, Drugs, and/or Smoking – Shel and Cash both refer at the start of the song, to the father of Sue leaving behind a half-filled (Shel)/empty (Cash) bottle of booze.

The first couple of lyrics in Johnny Cash's version of "A Boy Named Sue", chronicled in an impressive black-and-white comic style.

Entertainment: A (5 points)

Laughs: B+ (4 points)

Style: B (3 points)

Smarts: A- (4 points)

Fun: A (4 points)

Final score: 2o out of 30 (Over halfway there)

Rating: E 10+ (Shel’s version), T (Cash’s version) (do I have to talk it over again?)

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Click on the video to listen to Shel’s version of “A Boy Named Sue”.

Click on this video to watch almost six minutes of a segment of the foul-mouthed Johnny Cash’s show, shown in 1970, released online in 2008 to over 200,000 views. This video does feature a quick duet with the two creators of the song, also featuring a touching Shel solo to “Daddy, What If”.

“A Boy Named Sue” is a blast listening to, and your inside self is going to be laughing its head off while getting seriously grossed out at the same time, but overall, it’s one of Shel’s best songs. End of story.

Like what you saw? Subscribe for more, and if you blog here at WordPress, there’s that little button with a star on it that says ‘Like’. Click that. Did you do it? You should. I also may not be up to date with blogging after this, because the entire Moorsbridge 5th grade is headed to Sherman Lake camp! So, check out my other posts to do you time here on Sammwak!

– Sam

p.s. And to bid you a good farewell, I will give you a Shel-style goodbye poem:

Goodbye, goodbye, I hope you come back

To Sammwak here, and that’s a fact

Over 40,000 hits to date

To all of those I can’t relate

So always remember to come back

And enjoy the glory of what is Sammwak!

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