At San Quentin

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At San Quentin
Johnny Cash At San Quentin.jpg
Live album by Johnny Cash
ReleasedJune 4, 1969
RecordedFebruary 24, 1969
VenueSan Quentin State Prison, California
Genre
Length59:06 (re-release)
LabelColumbia
ProducerBob Johnston (original)
Bob Irwin (re-release)
Johnny Cash chronology
The Holy Land
(1969)
At San Quentin
(1969)
More of Old Golden Throat
(1969)

At San Quentin is the 31st overall album by Johnny Cash, recorded live at San Quentin State Prison on February 24, 1969 and released on June 4 of that same year. The concert was filmed by Granada Television, produced and directed by Michael Darlow.[1] The album was the second in Cash's conceptual series of live prison albums that also included "At Folsom Prison" (1968), "Pa Osteraker" (1973), and "A Concert Behind Prison Walls" (1976).

The album was certified gold on August 12, 1969, platinum and double platinum on November 21, 1986, and triple platinum on March 27, 2003 by the RIAA. The album was nominated for a number of Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and won Best Male Country Vocal Performance for "A Boy Named Sue."

There have been several releases with different songs and set order. The album cover photo by Jim Marshall is considered to be an iconic image of Cash, with Marshall Grant's Epiphone Newport bass guitar famously silhouetted in the foreground.

Recording[edit]

Johnny Cash had previously recorded a concert at prison in 1968 at Folsom Prison, This concert was recorded for a live LP and a television documentary for the UK. On the original LP release, the song order was changed and several songs were cut, presumably for space reasons. Despite the timing limitations of the vinyl LP format, however, both performances of the song "San Quentin" (Cash agreed to perform an encore at the audience's request) are included on the original album. Some of the songs were censored. Despite the title of the version released on CD in 2000 – At San Quentin (The Complete 1969 Concert) – the CD does not contain the entire concert uncut, but does feature additional tracks and running order that parallels the actual setlist. In 2010, the album was reissued on vinyl by Sundazed Records with the original Columbia catalog number LP 5362. The reissued Sundazed vinyl is an exact copy of the original record except that the back cover has a barcode and indicates it is a Sundazed issue. Performed but not included were the songs "Jackson" and "Orange Blossom Special", which are included in the video release of the show (both songs had been included in At Folsom Prison). Two songs were somehow slowed down by half a step ("Starkville City Jail" and "Blistered"), possibly due to using another tape machine while the tape on the original machine was changed.

This was Cash's first album recorded without his longtime lead guitar player and Tennessee Two founder Luther Perkins, who had died several months earlier. On the album, Cash is heard paying tribute to Perkins (who was not related to Carl Perkins, who appears on the recording as lead guitarist on several tracks).

Two songs are performed live on stage for the first time during the show: "San Quentin" and "A Boy Named Sue". According to biographer Robert Hilburn, the decision had already been made for Cash to perform "San Quentin" twice as it was considered the major new song of the set, though on record Cash makes it appear as if the encore is due to audience demand; producer Bob Johnson ultimately chose to include both versions of the song on the album. According to Hilburn, Cash spontaneously decided to perform "A Boy Named Sue" during the show and neither the TV crew nor his band knew he planned to do it (though he gave them advance warning by announcing early in the show his intent to play it); he used a lyric sheet on stage while Perkins and the band improvised the backing.[2]

European version[edit]

At the Dutch 1969 CBS Vinyl LP, is the CBS number S-63629 printed at the top left of the cover. The songs are the same (including "San Quentin" twice at side two), but the song's lengths are not presented officially.[3]

TV special and middle finger photo[edit]

A crew from Granada Television in the UK filmed the concert for broadcast on television. In the extended version of the concert released by Columbia/Legacy in 2000, Cash is heard expressing frustration at being told what to sing and where to stand prior to his performance of "I Walk the Line". The famous image of an angry-looking Cash giving the middle finger gesture to a camera originates from the performance; in his liner notes for the 2000 reissue, Cash explains that he was frustrated at having Granada's film crew blocking his view of the audience. When the crew ignored his request to "clear the stage", he made the gesture.[4]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic5/5 stars [5]
Rolling Stonefavorable [6]
PopMatters10/10[7]
BBCfavorable [8]
MusicHound4.5/5 stars[9]
Music Story4.5/5 stars[10]
Blender5/5 stars[11]

The album was nominated for a number of Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and won Best Male Country Vocal Performance for "A Boy Named Sue."

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Wanted Man"Bob Dylan3:24
2."Wreck of the Old 97"arranged by Cash, Bob Johnston, Norman Blake2:17
3."I Walk the Line"Johnny Cash3:13
4."Darling Companion"John Sebastian6:10
5."Starkville City Jail"Johnny Cash2:01
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."San Quentin"Johnny Cash4:07
2."San Quentin" (performed a second time at the audience's request)Johnny Cash3:13
3."A Boy Named Sue"Shel Silverstein3:53
4."(There'll Be) Peace in the Valley"Thomas A. Dorsey2:37
5."Folsom Prison Blues"Johnny Cash1:29
CD reissue (2000)
All tracks written by Johnny Cash except where noted.
No.TitleLength
1."Big River"1:56
2."I Still Miss Someone" (J. Cash, Roy Cash)1:52
3."Wreck of the Old 97" (*arranged by Cash, Johnston, Blake)2:05
4."I Walk the Line"3:29
5."Darlin' Companion" (Sebastian)3:21
6."I Don't Know Where I'm Bound" (Terence Cuddy)2:24
7."Starkville City Jail"6:15
8."San Quentin"4:07
9."San Quentin"3:13
10."Wanted Man" (Dylan)3:24
11."A Boy Named Sue" (Silverstein)3:59
12."(There'll Be) Peace in the Valley" (Dorsey)2:30
13."Folsom Prison Blues"4:24
14."Ring of Fire" (June Carter, Merle Kilgore)2:07
15."He Turned the Water Into Wine"4:01
16."Daddy Sang Bass" (Carl Perkins)2:43
17."The Old Account Was Settled Long Ago" (L.R. Dalton)2:16
18."Closing Medley: Folsom Prison Blues/I Walk the Line/Ring of Fire/The Rebel-Johnny Yuma" (Cash/Cash/Carter, Kilgore/R. Markowitz, A. Fenady)5:08

* Has no author-credit. Apparently David G. George didn't win a lawsuit against RCA-Victor in 1933 over the copyrights for this song.

It is worth noting, however, that it seems to be widely accepted that Henry Whitter wrote the music, as "The Ship That Never Returned"; Fred Lewey wrote the original words, and Charles Noell wrote the original two additional verses. Source: http://www.ezfolk.com/bgbanjo/bgb-tabs/wreck97/wreckbio/wreckbio.html

Legacy edition (2006)
Disc one
No.TitleWriter(s)PerformerLength
1."Blue Suede Shoes"Carl PerkinsCarl Perkins3:52
2."Flowers on the Wall"Lew DeWittThe Statler Brothers3:27
3."The Last Thing on My Mind"Tom PaxtonThe Carter Family3:34
4."June Carter Talks to The Audience"N/AJune Carter3:27
5."Wildwood Flower"Maud Irving, Joseph Philbrick WebsterThe Carter Family3:49
6."Big River"Johnny CashJohnny Cash1:43
7."I Still Miss Someone"Johnny Cash, Roy CashJohnny Cash1:50
8."Wreck of the Old '97"Johnny Cash, Johnston, BlakeJohnny Cash3:24
9."I Walk The Line"Johnny CashJohnny Cash2:28
10."Medley: Long Black Veil/Give My Love To Rose"Danny Dill, Marijohn WilkinJohnny Cash4:06
11."Folsom Prison Blues"Johnny CashJohnny Cash3:00
12."Orange Blossom Special"Ervin T. RouseJohnny Cash3:03
13."Jackson"Jerry Leiber, Billy Edd WheelerJohnny Cash, June Carter and Carl Perkins3:23
14."Darlin' Companion"John B. SebastianJohnny Cash, June Carter, Carl Perkins2:24
15."Break My Mind"John LoudermilkThe Carter Family, Carl Perkins2:56
16."I Don't Know Where I'm Bound"Terry CuddyJohnny Cash, Carl Perkins5:14
17."Starkville City Jail"Johnny CashJohnny Cash, Carl Perkins3:32
Disc two
No.TitleWriter(s)PerformerLength
1."San Quentin"Johnny CashJohnny Cash4.09
2."San Quentin"Johnny CashJohnny Cash3:13
3."Wanted Man"Johnny Cash, Bob DylanJohnny Cash3:29
4."Restless"Carl PerkinsCarl Perkins3:54
5."A Boy Named Sue"Shel SilversteinJohnny Cash, Carl Perkins3:45
6."Blistered"Billy Edd WheelerJohnny Cash, Carl Perkins1:46
7."(There'll Be) Peace in the Valley"Thomas A. DorseyJohnny Cash, The Carter Family, Carl Perkins3:13
8."The Outside Looking In"Carl PerkinsCarl Perkins3:00
9."Less of Me"Glen CampbellThe Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins2:45
10."Ring of Fire"June Carter, Merle KilgoreJohnny Cash, The Carter Family, Carl Perkins2:07
11."He Turned The Water Into Wine"Johnny CashJohnny Cash, The Carter Family, Carl Perkins4:01
12."Daddy Sang Bass"Carl PerkinsJohnny Cash, The Carter Family, Carl Perkins2:43
13."The Old Account Was Settled Long Ago"Larry DaltonJohnny Cash, The Carter Family, Carl Perkins2:16
14."Closing Medley: Folsom Prison Blues/I Walk The Line/Ring of Fire/Folsom Prison Blues/The Rebel – Johnny Yuma/Folsom Prison Blues"Johnny Cash/Johnny Cash/June Carter, Merle Kilgore/Johnny Cash/Andrew Fenady, Richard Markowitz/Johnny CashJune Carter/The Carter Family/The Statler Brothers/Carl Perkins/Johnny Cash/Johnny Cash5:08

Disc 3 (DVD)

The original 1969 documentary produced by Granada TV in the U.K. chronicles Cash's historic concert at the maximum security prison. Includes footage of the concert that became the 1969 best-selling LP, and features an edited performance of the number 1 hit "A Boy Named Sue". Also contains one-on-one interviews with several of the prison guards and inmates, talking about their time and experiences behind bars. (Running time: approx. 60 minutes)
Sundazed (2010)
  1. "Wanted Man"
  2. "Wreck of the Old 97"
  3. "I Walk the Line"
  4. "Darling Companion"
  5. "Starkville City Jail"
  6. "San Quentin"
  7. "San Quentin"
  8. "A Boy named Sue"
  9. "Peace in the Valley"
  10. "Folsom Prison Blues"

Several tracks on the original LP are preceded by several minutes of Cash talking to the audience, including a tangent where Cash is recorded trying to get his guitar tuned on stage. The original LP release bleeps profanity, including on "A Boy Named Sue" but later issues including the Legacy edition are uncensored. The original album's closing track "Folsom Prison Blues" is a partial performance of the song edited from a longer medley available in complete form in later reissues.

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Album – U.S. Billboard

Year Chart Position
1969 Country Albums 1
1969 Pop Albums 1

Singles – U.S. Billboard charts

Year Single Chart Position
1969 "A Boy Named Sue" Country Singles 1
1969 "A Boy Named Sue" Pop Singles 2

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Ireland (IRMA)[12] Gold 7,500^
United Kingdom (BPI)[13] Gold 100,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ Independents Struggle. Quartet Books. 2004. ISBN 0-7043-8155-9.
  2. ^ Robert Hilburn, Johnny Cash: The Life (New York: Little, Brown, 2013), p. 353-355
  3. ^ Source is mentioned in the statement
  4. ^ Johnny Cash (March 2000), "The Bird," Johnny Cash at San Quentin liner notes, Columbia/Legacy CK 66017, 2000
  5. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Johnny Cash at San Quentin Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
  6. ^ Marsh, Phil (26 July 1969). "Johnny Cash: At San Quentin". Rolling Stone. San Francisco: Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. (38): 36. Archived from the original on October 21, 2007. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  7. ^ https://www.popmatters.com/johnny-cash-at-san-quentin-2495745087.html
  8. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/23zf/
  9. ^ http://www.acclaimedmusic.net/album/A1116.htm
  10. ^ http://www.acclaimedmusic.net/album/A1116.htm
  11. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20061019163415/http://www.blender.com/guide/reviews.aspx?id=1361
  12. ^ "Irish album certifications – Johnny Cash – At San Quentin". Irish Recorded Music Association.
  13. ^ "British album certifications – Johnny Cash – San Quentin". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type San Quentin in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External links[edit]