It had been a rather steady task for some time: log out, elevator down, hit the street, turn left, walk down Post to Montgomery BART, slide my ticket through the turnstile, get on the right train, get off at the right station, call home, then get on my bike and get on home.
One day it all changed when Johnny Cash was playing at my station. No joke!
OK, it wasn’t exactly the man in black, but to my ears it didn’t matter. This was the real deal, as if Johnny himself anointed this rough and tumble busker every day to play it right. The whole catalogue was at hand, so it seemed, from Sun to American, and he was quite a regular performer too, this prolific, pink-haired punker. I’d say two days a week I could count on him … and have to pony up. For a year and a half and more he played the hits, but he also played songs I didn’t know, so I began to wonder. Put him to the request test I thought, something a little less known. I plopped a buck in his case and asked him if he could do Train of Love, an early Cash-penned song I had been learning on my own time. No pause at all and he nails it!
One day I introduce myself and ask him - Jesse Morris is his name it turns out - for recording privileges, to which he kindly obliges. Listen here to Jesse’s kick-ass version of Cocaine Blues, a song made famous by Johnny on his At Folsom Prison live album released in May, 1968, which, Jesse kindly informed me, was written and recorded by one T.J. Arnall in 1947.
Although I haven’t seen Jesse too much lately (this was my first busker recording, by the way) and when I have seen him he is just as likely to be playing punk as he is Cash, I would be happy to make a request for you (and perhaps make a recording). What’s your request?