Saturday, March 1, 2008

Behind bars

Read an amazing news article yesterday. A recent study said that one in every 100 Americans are currently in jail. There are 230 million adults living in the Land of the Free, and 2.32 million of them are behind bars. For some groups this percentage is even higher: every one in 36 adults with a Hispanic background is doing time, and one in 15 black adults. Even worse: one in 9 black men between the ages of 20 and 34 are locked up as we speak. Staggering figures, right? Makes you think. But don´t worry, as a European I´m not going to judge. I´ll just play you some songs about life in prison...

Picking a Johnny Cash song wasn´t easy, as the man in black did quite a few jail songs in his time (and performed some legendary gigs in the slammer as well). I finally chose Doin´My Time, a Sun recording from the Walking The Line-box (Union Square). "They call me by a number not a name". Gregory Isaacs, the Jamaican nightingale, knows what it is to do time. Jailer Jailer Bring Me Water is from Extra Classic (´78). I have to do a post dedicated to The Mississippi Sheiks soon, as they never cease to amaze me. Jail Bird Love Song is to be found on the excellent Stop And Listen compilation (Yazoo). Choosing between Merle Haggard´s Mama Tried and Sing Me Back Home simply proved too hard. So you´ll get both; find them on The Lonesome Fugitive Anthology (Razor & Tie). I Fought The Law was made famous by the Bobby Fuller Four, but The Clash made it their own in ´78 on their The Cost Of Living ep. It was also added to the U.S. version of their classic debut album. The Blue Sky Boys are one of those classic country brother teams you often find me raving about in these pages. "I will scrub all your floors, I will wash all your clothes, if that will get my baby out of jail..." Hunt down the out of print Are You From Dixie? Great Country Brother Teams Of The 1930´s (RCA) for this gem.

Johnny Cash - Doin´ My Time MP3
Gregory Isaacs - Jailer Jailer Bring Me Water MP3
Mississippi Sheiks - Jail Bird Love Song MP3
Merle Haggard - Sing Me Back Home MP3
Merle Haggard - Mama Tried MP3
The Clash - I Fought The Law MP3
Blue Sky Boys - I´m Just Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail MP3

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