Starkville City Jail By Johnny Cash

At San Quinten

1969 | Folk

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“Well, they threw me in the car and started driving into town; I said: "What the hell did I do?" And he said: "Shut up and sit down." -- Well, they emptied out my pockets, took my pills and guitar picks. I said: "Wait, my name is..." "Ah, shut up." Well, I sure was in a fix."


  • The song is written about May 11, 1965, where Johnny Cash was arrested in Starkville Mississippi following a performance at the Mississippi State University.
  • Cash shared his cell that night with a 15-year-old man named Smokey Evans. After kicking the cell wall so hard that he broke his toe, Cash gave his shoes to the 15 year old, saying, "Here’s a souvenir. I’m Johnny Cash."
  • The album was recorded live at San Quentin State Prison on February 24, 1969 and released on June 4 of that same year.


Luke Tatum

Curfews. What a nuisance. You know what curfews remind me of? V for Vendetta. You know what else? City councils, arguing about this and that purely arbitrary rule to impose on "their" populations. It's silly that we put up with this sort of thing when it makes us so upset and the rules are so transparently foolish, but what are you gonna do? "Them's the rules," so they say.

Sherry Voluntary

“They’re bound to get you, ‘cause they got a curfew” Johnny Cash hits the nail on the head in his own unique way here. If the government wants you, they will get you. They hold all the cards and have the law on their side. This is one of the major problems with the criminal “justice” system. The people who make, enforce, prosecute, defend, and interpret the law, all work for the same entity: The State. If they want you bad enough, they will lie, cheat, and manipulate the evidence, or procedures in order to meet their ends. I try to steer clear of them and minimize them in my life, because the deck is stacked so much in their favor. That kind of disproportion doesn't lead to justice.

Nicky P

Ain't this the way its all been set up. I thought broken windows policing was a thing they created not terribly long ago. Didn't police used to be humble public servants maintaining order in society and only recently militarization turned them into an occupying force? Judging from this interaction described by Mr. Cash cops have always been peckerwoods with badges. Not only does this little parable carry in it broken windows policing where officers create laws as excuses to create the interactions that they can talk up to bigger crimes, it also holds a fine example of civil asset forfeiture. When they hand him back his pockets contents its noticeably missing the money and pills it held beforehand. At no point in the interaction did they even seem interested in who he was or his reason for being there it was simply an excuse to show force and make a little off the books tax apparently.

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Nicky P

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