A Boy Named Sue, By Elvis Presley: Song Analysis

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Many children throughout the nation know what it’s like to grow up without a fatherly figure in their life and because of this some turn to violence. The two songs A Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash and In the Ghetto by Elvis Presley do an exceptional job of illustrating that these problems still exist and are perhaps worsening in today’s society. The first similarity I perceived between the two songs was that both include a young boy growing up without a father. In A Boy Named Sue the boy’s father leaves him and his mother. Johnny Cash explained this with the lyrics, “My daddy left home when I was three and he didn’t leave much to ma and me”. In the Ghetto doesn’t exactly say that the boy grows up not having a dad but it can be inferred…show more content…
In A Boy Named Sue, Cash sang, “I grew up quick and I grew up mean. My fists got hard and my wits got keen.” This suggests that he was ridiculed because his name was Sue and he grew violent. Johnny Cash also suggested this when he sang, “some guy’d laugh and I’d bust his head.” “In the Ghetto” is much more intense in terms of violence. The young boy grows up roaming the streets with negative influences. “He starts to roam the streets at night and he learns how to steal and he learns how to fight.” are some of the lyrics Presley used to describe the violence in the song. Shortly after this line he sang, “Then one night in desperation the young man breaks the rules, he buys a gun, steals a car, tries to run, but he don’t get far, and his mama cries. As a crowd gathers ‘round an young man face down with a gun in his hand.” Violence is often a result of growing up with negative influences or no fatherly…show more content…
The son finds his father in a saloon and after beating him up, his father explains to him that he named him Sue so that he would learn to be tough considering his dad would never be around to prepare him for situations where he needed to be tough. “Son, this world is rough, and if a man’s gonna make it he’s gotta be tough...I know you’d have to get tough or die , and it’s the name the helped t make you strong.” (Johnny Cash) They make peace, yet they still part their separate ways. “I called him Pa, he called me son, and I come away with a different point of view” is one of the last lines of the song. In the Ghetto however, ended in a more negative matter, but with a somewhat stronger message. As a result of the boy’s influences and life on the street, he dies. “As her young man dies, on a cold and gray Chicago mornin’, Another little baby child is born in the ghetto and his mama cries.” are the last lines of the song and arguably the most meaningful. This describes the repeating cycle of life growing up in the ghetto. It’s very thought-provoking and leaves the listener thinking. What is sad about this is the fact that this occurs much too often in the ghetto. Elvis Presley portrayed this very well throughout the whole song. The songs A Boy Named Sue and In the Ghetto both show the struggles of growing up with no father figure around and
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