The Real Story Of ‘A Boy Named Sue’
The song "A Boy Named Sue" was made hugely popular by Johnny Cash in 1969. It spent five weeks at number one on the country charts.
The song was written by Shel Silverstein. Cash recorded the song live at a performance at San Quentin Prison.
The week before the prison show, there was a party at the Cash house. A group of artists were sharing some ideas for some new songs, like Bob Dylan introducing a thing called "Lay Lady, Lay".
Kris Kristofferson said, "Take a listen to this song I just wrote." He sang "Me And Bobby McGee" to the group.
When it came Shel Silverstein's turn, he introduced everybody to "A Boy Named Sue". Cash asked Shel to write the lyrics down for him.
The next week at San Quentin, Cash was encouraged by his wife, June Carter, to do the song for the show. Johnny had to read it from the piece of paper as he sang it on stage. The audience loved it and so did the record buying world outside the walls.
Silverstein's inspiration for the song's title came from a man named Sue K. Hicks, who was a judge in the state of Tennessee. Hicks was a speaker at an event that Silverstein had attended, and the name Sue for a man and the story of how he got it, stuck with Silverstein.
The real story is in fact, it was the father of Sue Hicks that gave him the name. But it had absolutely nothing to do with rebellion or getting tough. The little boy was given the name because his mother died giving birth to him. Her name was Susanna Hicks.