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Feb 13

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Johnny Cash

J. R. (Johnny) Cash was a well known balladeer of the 20th Century and famous in the American Country Music genre. His rich baritone voice was heard for decades on radio stations and juke boxes across the land. Johnny Cash came from very humble beginnings. A family of poor sharecroppers in the southern state of Arkansas. Cash’s song writing embodied a real sense of roots. He was a man of humble roots and never forgot where he came from. His upbringing and background contributed to the character of his song lyrics. Songs of life’s hardship and heart-ache, songs that spoke about love of God and family, songs about hard work and fun times too.

One of my favorites; Big River is a song that uses a series of geographical points along the Mississippi River to explain lost love and heart-ache.
The refrain;

Now I taught the weeping willow how to cry,
And I showed the clouds how to cover up a clear blue sky.
And the tears that I cried for that woman are gonna flood you Big River.
And I’m gonna sit right here until I die.

The singer goes on to point out a first and accidental meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota wherein he is smitten by her lovely southern drawl. I suspect that many non-native speakers of the English language may be unfamiliar with the phrase, but here is another link for more info on the southern drawl. For a native gent from St. Paul a gal with a lilt of southern speech can be seductively attractive.

He then follows his “dream’ downstream to Davenport, Iowa, St. Louis, Missouri and on to Memphis, Tennessee where he gets close to catching her but not quite. The belle has also attracted the eye of many a suitor. Then, further down the river to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and finally to New Orleans where the Big River empties into the great Gulf of Mexico, and where our balladeer resigns himself to a love unrequited.

 

BIG RIVER

by Johnny Cash

Now I taught the weeping willow how to cry,
And I showed the clouds how to cover up a clear blue sky.
And the tears that I cried for that woman are gonna flood you Big River.
And I’m gonna sit right here until I die.

I met her accidentally in St. Paul (Minnesota).
And it tore me up every time I heard her drawl, Southern drawl.
Then I heard my dream was back Downstream cavortin’ in Davenport,
And I followed you, Big River, when you called.

Then you took me to St. Louis later on (down the river).
A freighter said she’s been here but she’s gone, boy, she’s gone.
I found her trail in Memphis, but she just walked up the bluff.
She raised a few eyebrows and then she went on down alone.

Now, won’t you bat it down by Baton Rouge, River Queen, roll it on.
Take that woman on down to New Orleans, New Orleans.
Go on, I’ve had enough; dump my blues down in the gulf.
She loves you, Big River, more than me.

Now I taught the weeping willow how to cry, cry, cry
And I showed the clouds how to cover up a clear blue sky.
And the tears that I cried for that woman are gonna flood you Big River.
Then I’m gonna sit right here until I die.

Permanent link to this article: http://english-speak-english.com/johnny-cash/

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