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Cash musical 'Ring of Fire' opens


Published: Sat, March 11, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


LONG ISLAND NEWSDAY
NEW YORK -- Talk about humming a few bars. On Feb. 23, 1969, the night before Johnny Cash was to fly from Tennessee to San Quentin State Prison in California to record his follow-up to "At Folsom Prison," he held a party at his home in Hendersonville, Tenn. Among the guests was songwriter and kids'-book icon Shel Silverstein, who gave Cash the lyrics to a novelty song called "A Boy Named Sue."
Cash improvised a melody the next day for the convicts, who roared when they heard the lines "My name is Sue! How do you do? Now you're gonna die." The song is one of nearly 40 Cash hits re-created in "Ring of Fire," the new musical directed by Richard Maltby Jr. that opens today at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York.
"I think Johnny was pushed to do it by June , who really loved the song," says Jeb Brown, the "Ring of Fire" star who tackles "Sue" on stage with Jarrod Emick and Jason Edwards. "Johnny loved it, too, but he claimed he couldn't memorize it, so he read it off the lyric sheets that first time. You can even hear the band waiting for him for a couple of moments in that recording. It's one of the most famous versions of that song."


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