Mudcat Café message #909827 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #57624   Message #909827
Posted By: Blues=Life
14-Mar-03 - 08:14 AM
Thread Name: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
You know, this has turned into a very interesting thread. Felipa raises an interesting point, about changing a song so that you CAN sing it. I sing Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" as a blues song, not as country, and marvel at what may be one of the most evil lines ever written:

"When I was just a baby, my Momma told me, "Son,
Always be a good boy, don't ever play with guns."
But I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die."

I recently saw a special on a compilation album of Cash's work, where other artists were asked to interpret his songs. Keb Mo was asked to sing Folsom Prison as a blues song, so of course, I was fascinated to see how he did it. (Very well, of course!*g*) But his response was, "I can't sing it like that." The producer (who I believe was Ricky Scaggs) told Keb, "Johnny won't mind, make it your own." So he sang:

"When I was just a baby, my Momma told me, "Son,
Always be a good boy, don't ever play with guns."
They say I shot a man in Reno, but you know that was a lie."

Was this a right thing to do? Well, his version is well worth listening to. (Keb Mo is always worth listening to!) But I still sing the song as written. Although I have never shot a man in Reno, Lord knows I've been tempted a time or two. I CAN put myself into the shoes of a man who feels:

"I know I had it coming, I know I can't be free"

and therefore I can "become" that person while singing the song.
A great blues song, one of my favorites, and one that always gets a strong response from listeners.

Blues