Most people who know me know that I am a big Johnny Cash fan. I prefer his older more rockabilly stuff but it is all good to me. However, the song that made me a Johnny Cash fan is NOT one of his songs, but rather a song by a band from New York called The Dancing Hoods. The band never got the attention I think they deserved as they are known mostly for being the first band of Mark Linkous, who gained a lot more fame for the band Sparklehorse.
The first song from their debut album ‘12 Jealous Roses’ is called ‘Pleasure’. The first two times the chorus was sung, it included the phrase “I smash my own bones just to hear them crack…”, which I thought was a great line. However, on the third go around, that part of the chorus changed to “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die…” This was definitely a bit of a departure and I had never heard that line before.
Years later I found out the “shot a man in Reno” line came from ’Folsom Prison Blues’, and was written by Johnny Cash. When he was writing the song, he was trying to think of the worst possible reason for one person to kill another and just to watch someone else die was pretty much it.
I sought out a copy of ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ and I liked it. In fact, I liked it so much I bought the three CD set, ‘The Essential Johnny Cash (1955-1983)’, which quickly became one of my favorite collections of music. I compare all other country artists to Johnny Cash and if they don’t come close to his sound, then I don’t like them. Needless to say, I haven’t liked much country music that has come out since 1983 and I don’t feel bad about it at all.
While I am a huge fan of the earlier Johnny stuff, I respect what Rick Rubin brought to the table with the ‘American Recordings’. I know that ‘Hurt’ was the big hit of those sessions, but my favorite song of Older Johnny was ‘Ain’t No Grave’, which is Johnny Cash’s final studio recording and the music behind The Johnny Cash Project.
Here is Pleasure by The Dancing Hoods:
Here is Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash:
And here is Ain’t No Grave by Johnny Cash: