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Saturday, January 22, 2011

310. "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash

From my flubbing of the iconic (and incredibly easy to play) you can pretty much tell how this is going to go. Calling it a pisstake is in some ways an insult to piss: in olden times, the Thunderhill Johnny Cash tribute was a medley of about five or six Sun era classics with two modulations, bookended by "Folsom". It got a little hard to keep track of the sequence with Thunderhill's infrequent live performances and even less frequent rehearsals, and frankly we weren't sure if anyone noticed the other songs anyhow, so these days it's just the one tune.

The legend behind the medley has Thunderhill performing at a prison, in grand Cash style (and that part of the story is certainly true). Apparently some of the inmates were very adamant, in a kind of life-threatening kind of way, that the band play some Cash. In between sets they scrambled to put a single song together, only to realize that they knew the first verse of almost every Cash tune, but didn't know the whole thing of any of them. Thus was born the medley.

The Broome family and J.R. Cash go way back: the earliest recording I have of my dad singing is from before Thunderhill, in about 1958, and it includes "Train of Love". And through my Thunderhill association I got into the Man in Black well before the Rick Rubin days, when most of my peers still thought of him (and probably most country music in general) as sort of a cornball figure; I got to see him do his unvarnished, unhipsterized touring show at the Rocky Gap Bluegrass festival in Maryland in 1991, and I am now the proud owner of a bootleg of that very show.

Jim Broome ~ Vocal, rhythm guitar
Rich Frush ~ Drums
Rex Broome ~ Lead guitar
Tom Heckman ~ Bass
Jerry Marsh ~ Tambourine
Recorded at the Honi Honi, Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, Summer 2010

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