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A Boy Named Sue
A Boy Named Sue
by Johnny Cash
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A Boy Named Sue Lyrics

What was that line and what might it mean, anyway?

Full, legally copyrighted lyrics for Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue" are currently unavailable.

Quick Thought

The name given to a specific type of saloon that originated in the late 19th century in the South and Midwest, the honky tonk almost always included a musical or comedy performance and catered primarily to white, working-class men.

Deep Thought

While immensely popular among their customers, honky tonks tended to be looked down upon by the more elite members of the community, who turned up their noses at the roughnecks and "painted ladies" (i.e., prostitutes) who supposedly frequented them. In reality, however, the bars stayed relatively tame, with most of the men content drinking beer and watching the variety shows onstage.

Quick Thought

A town in Tennessee on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains which has turned into a traveler's destination for hikers and sightseers.

Deep Thought

Gatlinburg is about what you'd expect from a small town in the South: mostly white, Christian, and nestled in the woods. This evocative setting hints at the character of Sue's father.

"Dealing stud"
Quick Thought

That's a reference to "stud poker," of course, a gambling card game that's been popular since the American Revolutionary War.

Deep Thought

Stud poker can be broken down further into 7 card and 5 card stud; both are variations on the original card game involving bets and cards that are dealt both face-up and face-down. Playing card games over a few beers was common practice in the honky tonks of the South, so it's no surprise that this what Sue's dad was up to when he found him.

"Son of a b----"
Quick Thought

Though pretty tame by today's standards of potty-mouthed lyrics, this line was originally censored out of "A Boy Named Sue."

Deep Thought

"Son of a b----," along with the "d---" at the end, were deemed inappropriate for the public airways of the sixties, so both words were edited out of the radio version of the song.

Next Page: Meaning
Previous Page: Intro

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