YOUR CASH IS ‘TRASH!’: Steve Poltz reveals possible scandal behind “Folsom Prison Blues”

Sure, we know that Johnny Cash — as he famously sang — “shot a man in Reno” (at least figuratively speaking) “just to watch him die.” That line, from Cash’s 1969 classic, “Folsom Prison Blues,” is one of his most famous lyrics — as well as a compelling argument that country music’s fabled “Man in Black” may very well have been the first gangsta rapper.


But the nagging question remains: WHY did he shoot a man in Reno, beyond just watching him die? Did the dude owe him money? Did he hit on Cash’s girlfriend? Did he have really bad breath and wear a vest made from putrified garlic cloves? Or, perhaps, was he the atonal lead singer in Putrified Garlic Cloves?

Now, at last, we have a possible answer (involving a crossdressing “lady” — make that man — of easy virtue), thanks to “Trash” by veteran San Diego singer-songwriter and solo artist Steve Poltz (left). FYI, Poltz is not a crossdressing man, although he has been known to wear a frilly dress on stage every now and again. Poltz is also the leader of The Rugburns and the guy who co-wrote one of Jewel’s biggest hits and used to be her boyfreiend before she ran off for a fling with Sean Penn, leaving poor Steve emotionally scarred, at least until he went bowling and discovered his inner gutter ball.

As you read the lyrics, you might try humming the melody to Sean Kingston’P “Beautiful Girls,” T-Pain’s “Bartender” or Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Not because they sound anything like “Trash,” but because, well, they don’t, not even remotely, but just because. For more on “Trash” and Steve Poltz, click his Web site;

TRASH (MP3 Link)

It was an evening in Reno like any other
I was putting on my makeup
and talking on the phone to my mother
saying I was going off to work
Feeling like a liar and a jerk
I hung up that phone
With a heart like a stone
Oh the secrets we don’t tell
Put us in a hell
I was cooking up some eggs
And tucking my thing between my legs
Feeling like a big con
While I was pulling up my nylons
I stood in the mirror
And practiced my walk
I turned the radio on
And talked my talk
But little did I know
Tonight I would die
It takes a little bit o’ grease
To make me look pretty
And if I practice a bit
I sound sweet and witty
in my dress and my high heels
I grabbed my purse shut the door
I might be for sale but I ain’t no whore
And tonight like a cartoon
I’m off to the bar

He was standin’ in the corner
All dressed in black
And when he stared in my eyes
My heart went slack
And he looked into me
he could read my soul
And he took me outside
for a moonlight stroll
Oh the things we do
Looking for love
well he said he was a singer
from Nashville town
and his voice was rich and deep and brown
when he pressed against me
he felt so strong
but his kiss was soft
as a country song
and we made love in the dark
in the back of the park
when he finished his business
he zipped his pants
and then he started to scream
and yell and rant
he said I was a freak
and it was wrong
and that he was gonna kill me
and put me in a song
he said if people ask I’ll say
I shot a man just to watch him die

He said my name is Johnny
Johnny Cash
And I’m drawn to the devil
And a magnet for trash
I’m gonna shoot you
To protect my lie
And as he pulled that trigger
I started to cry
And I fell in his arms
Just like trash
When the ambulance came
He was gone like lightning
I was trembling in the back
It was so damn frightening
I couldn’t gather my breath
And It started to rain
But you can’t stop death
When it pulls like a train
And I was out
Like a light
Or a song

My mother held a funeral
And no one came
I don’t hold any anger
Or any blame
I know that I ain’t trash
I’m a beautiful soul
And Jesus still loves me
With a heart of gold
Yeah my
Jesus says I got
A heart of gold
It was an evening in Reno
Like any other
I was putting on my makeup
And talking on the phone to
My mother

One Response to “YOUR CASH IS ‘TRASH!’: Steve Poltz reveals possible scandal behind “Folsom Prison Blues””

  1. […] Steve Poltz, former boyfriend of Jewel, wrote a whole song based on one of the most recited Johnny Cash lyrics around–”I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.” I get the feeling the song […]

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