The Folk Singer

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"The Folk Singer"
Single by Johnny Cash
A-side"Folsom Prison Blues"
ReleasedApril 1968 (1968-04)
Songwriter(s)Charles E. Daniels, Johnny Cash

"The Folk Singer" is a folk song, written by Charles E. Daniels and American musician Johnny Cash and first recorded by Cash in 1968.[1] It is also known as "Folk Singer" or, less often, "The Singer".

Allegedly about American pop singer Tommy Roe, "The Folk Singer" was first recorded in 1968 and released as a B-side on a 45 RPM live reissue of Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" single in April 1968. Later recorded by Burl Ives (on the album, The Times They Are A-Changin') the same year[2] and Glen Campbell (on the album, Try a Little Kindness) in 1970,[3] the song reached a wider audience from these versions.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds version (1986)[edit]

"The Singer"
Single by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
from the album Kicking Against the Pricks
B-side"Running Scared"/"Black Betty"
Released16 June 1986 (1986-06-16)
GenreRock, folk rock
Songwriter(s)Charles E. Daniels, Johnny Cash
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds singles chronology
"The Singer"
"The Mercy Seat"

"The Folk Singer" was recorded by Australian post-punk group Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in 1985, with a slightly altered lyric, under the title "The Singer." First released as a single in June 1986,[4] the song later appeared on the band's third studio album, Kicking Against the Pricks, which was composed entirely of cover versions.

"The Singer" was performed live on all of the band's following tour dates throughout 1986—1989 and on a number of other occasions up until 2005.[5]

Track listing[edit]

UK 7" (7 MUTE 47)
  1. "The Singer" (Daniels, Cash) – 3:08
  2. "Running Scared" (Roy Orbison, Joe Melson) –2:07
UK 12" (12 MUTE 47)
  1. "The Singer" (Daniels, Cash) – 3:08
  2. "Running Scared" (Orbison, Melson) – 2:07
  3. "Black Betty" (Lead Belly) – 2:33


Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Additional musicians
  • The Berliner Kaffeehausmusik Ensemble - strings
  • Gini Ball - strings (on "Running Scared")
  • Martin McCarrick - strings (on "Running Scared")
Technical personnel
  • Flood - producer, engineer
  • Tony Cohen - co-producer, engineer
  • Peter Gruchot - art direction, photography


Chart (1986) Peak
UK Indie Chart[6] 1


  1. ^ "Second Hand Songs – Recording: The Folk Singer – Johnny Cash". Second Hand Songs. 22 April 2005. Retrieved 25 October 2010.
  2. ^ ""All My Best" song list". Retrieved 25 October 2010.
  3. ^ Try a Little Kindness – Glen Campbell at AllMusic. Retrieved 25 October 2010.
  4. ^ "Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – The Singer (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs. 16 June 1986. Retrieved 25 October 2010.
  5. ^ "Nick Cave – chronological song list – 1985". Maurice Maes. Retrieved 25 October 2010.
  6. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980-1989. Cherry Red Books. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2014.