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Johnny Cash Sings “Cocaine Blues”

The Daily Music Break is re-posting great music that original was featured when the site was younger. This originally posted on March 11, 2012.

There is so much out there about Johnny Cash that it doesn’t make sense to discuss it much here. The main reason, of course, was that he was an American original. It doesn’t hurt that he hosted a television show from 1969 to 1971, which produced a mountain of video. Much of it features Cash playing with folks you wouldn’t associate with him.

Here is the song Cocaine Blues. It’s amazing that a song by that name, based on a drug-induced murder, was featured on a network television program. In any case, it’s a song that pops up, in one form or another, all over the place. Check out Little Sadie by John Renbourn. There also is an apparently separate song by the same name done by many artists, including Keith Richards. Wikipedia, of course, has chapter and verse.

Three Cash videos are worth mentioning: Hurt, a song written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, has been voted the best video ever in some polls. God’s Gonna Cut You Down is equal parts brilliant and weird. One of Cash’s biggest hits was A Boy Named Sue. Believe it or not, the song was written by Shel Silverstein, the author or The Giving Tree and A Light in the Attic. Here are the two playing the song together.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.