I shot a man in Reno …

Before I left home for Reno some five weeks ago, a co-worker of mine who listens to a lot of the same music I like asked me, “Are you gonna shoot a man there?”

“I might,” I said.

“Just to watch him die?” he asked.

“Why else?” I replied.

He was of course referring to the line in Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.”

But then my co-worker went a little too far.

“You know, there’s something wrong with that song,” he said.

“What?” I asked.

“Well, if he shot a man in Reno, what the hell is he doing in prison in California? Wouldn’t he be in prison in Nevada?”

My reaction included a few choice words. He had permanently guaranteed that every time I heard that song, I wouldn’t be able to stop from asking myself the same question.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, while I was in Reno, someone took a shot at answering that question.

Caleb Cage of the Reno News & Review, a weekly paper, looked a little deeper into the story … or stories … behind the song in his story, “I shot a man in Reno,” in the July 3-9 issue.

If you like Johnny Cash at all, you should check it out. Then you should check out this 1959 performance of the song.

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