I was looking at this picture earlier tonight—which is posted, poster-size, at the head of my bed, below the besunglassed Lou Reed—& I started thinking about just how much I like Johnny Cash, & just how funny that is, because nearly every other artist who falls into his genre (re: Country) gives me the overwhelming desire to take to my eardrums with a hacksaw. Still, Joaquin Phoenix aside, Johnny remains brilliant—not only because he can do a mean NIN / Depeche Mode cover, but also because his songs are simple & lovely but never quite cheerful—melancholy, buoyed always by a twang.
There are plenty I could post—"I Still Miss Someone," "Ring of Fire," "Cocaine Blues," "Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart"—but my favorite-favorite-favorite will always be "Folsom Prison Blues"—the must-have version, of course: live at Folsom Prison.
Still, when I clicked over to iTunes & let this song rocket out across my quiet little cubicle of a dorm room, I was surprised—not quite disappointed, per se, but left wanting. For whatever reason, I had always remembered it slower. Maybe because his is the least blues-y "blues" I know—up-tempo & jittering—but probably because it's just such a beautiful song—a sad song—a song about stasis, prisons literal & self-imposed.
So, with that in mind, I went in search of a cover that did justice to the version I craved, & I found these.
Funkier than what I had envisioned, but no less worth sharing. (Also, I love how this YouTuber calls it "The One About the Man From Reno." It's okay, man: that's my favorite line, too.)
Blackie & the Rodeo Kings.
This version is certainly bluesier—& certainly very good—but it still didn't quite fit the bill...
& then, at last, the knock-it-out-of-the-park, how-on-earth-did-I-find-this, thank-you-Blessed-Internet version:
This is almost exactly how I imagine the song sung in my head (sans, perhaps, a few of those flares)—how I wish, dear Lord of Vocal Chords, I could sing it, ever & on, to the small square insides of these walls.