Johnny Cash performs “Big River” Live On Hee Haw.

The song reached # 4 on the US Hot Country Singles charts, with a total of 14 weeks remaining on the charts. “Big River” was included in Johnny's second studio album, Johnny Cash Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous (Sun records 1958)

YouTube Memories64 Channel
YouTube Memories64 Channel

Big River

“Big River”, a song written and recorded by Johnny Cash for the Sun Records label, on November 12, 1957, at Sun Studio, 706 Union Ave., Memphis, TN, at the recording session of “Big River, also recorded, “Ballad of a teenage queen” and Goodnight Irene box “. At the recording session Johnny was accompanied by: Luther Perkins (guitar) and Marshall Grant (bass). With the production of Sam Phillips and Jack Clement, the song was released on December 1, 1957. The song reached # 4 on the US Hot Country Singles charts, with a total of 14 weeks remaining on the charts.

Lp cover Johnny Cash ( Sun 1958 )
Lp cover Johnny Cash ( Sun 1958 )

“Big River” was included in Johnny’s second studio album, Johnny Cash Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous (Sun records 1958), the album was recorded between April 2, 1956, and July 10, 1958, and was released on November 13, 1958. But later re-issued in 2003, under the label Varèse Sarabande, with four different versions of tracks already present on the original LP as a bonus. The complete contents of the album are also incorporated into an extended version of the previous collection With His Hot and Blue Guitar included in the 2012 box set Johnny Cash: The Complete Columbia Album Collection.

Story Behind the song :

Johnny Cash was on a touring break when he picked up an article titled “Johnny Cash Has the Big River Blues in His Voice.” Soon after, he wrote a lovelorn country tune about a man who is so smitten by a woman and her irresistible Southern drawl that he pursues her down the Mississippi River – and misses her at every turn.Cash had a much different sound in mind for the tune before Sun Records founder Sam Phillips got a hold of it. “When I wrote ‘Big River,’ I wrote it [to be sung] real slow, not up-tempo as I did it on record,” he explained in a 1988 interview with biographer Steve Turner. “There was a guitar player named Roy Nichols, who later worked with Merle Haggard, and he used to play that song with me, and he played some really black blues on it. It sounded like a real blues song. Sam Phillips wanted it upbeat, and he made it sound like a rockabilly song.”

Versions:

Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys 1961 (Decca)
The Shacklefords 1963 (Mercury)
The Carter Family 1965 (Columbia)
Ian & Sylvia 1967 (MGM)
Mac Wiseman 1970 (RCA Victor)
Hank Williams J.r 1970 (MGM)
Jimmy Kemp 1972 (Windmill)
Bob Luman 1977 (Epic)
Rosanne Cash 1980 (Columbia)
Rosie Flores 2002 (Dualtone)





Johnny Cash – Big River Lyrics

[Chorus]
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 going to flood you, Big River
Then I’m going to sit right here until I die

[Verse 1]
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 cavorting in Davenport
And I followed you, Big River, when you called

[Verse 2]
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

[Verse 3]
Now, won’t you batter 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

[Chorus]
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 going to flood you Big River
Then I’m going to sit right here until I die

Single Johnny Cash ( Sun 1957 )
Single Johnny Cash ( Sun 1957 )

Miquel Batlle
mbatllegarriga@gmail.com