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big favour re son's birthday - Cash's Boy Named Sue

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Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 879
Topic starter  

Hi all

I am hoping that some of you might be able to help me out. My son just loves this song and its his birthday soon, I would love to be able to replicate how Johnny Cash plays this. Please can someone give me a bit of help with this, I know the chords but how does he play it, straight boom chucka or is there some other way?

Your advice is much appreciated. Anyway for those that want to have a go at this great song it goes like this. Chord changes are the same as verse 1 all the way through (unless someone can correct me on that?)

My daddy left home when I was three
And he didn't leave much to Ma and me
......... D................................................G
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 is 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 good-bye
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!



Eminent Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 18

I know that this was posted quite a while ago but as soon as I saw it I had to mention this. I've not played this song with the chords you listed but a book I have of some of Cash's songs list the chords as A,D, and E and the strum pattern as D DU DD So it would run A for four measures then two measures for D then two for E and repeats.

Just thought I'd suggest it.

Guitar is easier to say than saxamaphone.. Doh!!

Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 106