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Lyr Add: The Chicken in Black (from Johnny Cash)


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Gene 06 Aug 97 - 11:55 AM
JesseW 14 Jun 08 - 12:17 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: THE CHICKEN IN BLACK (from Johnny Cash)
From: Gene
Date: 06 Aug 97 - 11:55 AM

Words and music by Gary Gentry
As recorded by Johnny Cash on "Singles Plus" (2014)

For two long years, my head hurt bad,
So the doctor checked me and shook his head.
He said, "I'm sorry to tell ya, but your body's outlived your brain"
He said, "I know this doctor in New York, son,
And he'll fix you right up with a brand new one"
So the head doctor met me when I stepped down off of the train.

He said, "We had this bank robber killed last night.
His body's shot, but his brain's alright.
I'll give you a transplant, boy, and you'll be O.K."
I got my new brain in and I was feelin' great.
I went right back to Nashville with no headache,
But somethin' strange happened when I walked in the bank one day.

CHORUS: I said, "Stick 'em up, everybody. I'm robbin' this place.
Drop all of your money in my guitar case.
Don't nobody move and don't nobody reach for that door."
A lady said, "Why, you're Johnny Cash".
I said, "No, ma'am. I'm the Manhattan Flash,
And I am the best bank robber in New York."

Now, the other night Roy Acuff called me.
He said, "John, I'd like for you to do the Opry,"
So I went out on the stage but I couldn't sing.
I got into half a verse of "I Walk the Line"
Then somethin' snapped in this head of mine.
I yelled, "Stick 'em up! Give me your money, your watches, and rings."

Well, I called New York and talked to that brain quack.
I said, "Doc, I've got to have my old brain back."
He said, "I'm sorry there, Mr. Cash, but I can't do that."
He said, "I put your brain in a chicken last Monday.
He's singin' your songs and makin' lots of money,
And I got him signed to a ten-year recording contract."

Now, friends, if you see me walkin' down the street,
Remember what you see ain't necessarily me;
And if I try to hold you up, don't pay me no mind;
But when you got ten bucks that you can blow,
You ought to catch that Johnny Chicken Show.
He's doin' fairs and concert dates all up and down the line.


Well, I don't pay any income tax.
You don't pay tax on money you steal.
You oughta catch that Johnny Chicken Show.
Chicken in black!

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Subject: More information
From: JesseW
Date: 14 Jun 08 - 12:17 AM

Well, I found it hard to believe that Cash actually recorded this, so I did a quick google, and, seems like he did. I even found a few videos...

According to a well-known Cash forum poster named MHIC the original title of the song was "Brain Transplant" and it was recorded in 1984 in the "Billy Sherrill sessions".

And the en.Wikipedia entry on Cash has this to say about the song: "He realized that his record label of nearly 30 years, Columbia, was growing indifferent to him and wasn't properly marketing him (he was "invisible" during that time, as he said in his autobiography). Cash recorded an intentionally awful song to protest, a self-parody. "Chicken in Black" was about Johnny's brain being transplanted into a chicken. Ironically, the song turned out to be a larger commercial success than any of his other recent material." No citations directly linked to that part though, sadly...

Thought this might be of interest to some folks...

Jesse Weinstein

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