Do you like Joe Bean? Share with your friends now
B. Freeman, L. Pober
Johnny Cash: At Folsom Prison, 1999
Johnny Cash performed this song at his famous 1968 concert
in Folsom Prison. It wasn't included on the original
release of the concert, along with "Busted" and "The Legend
of John Henry's Hammer." Columbia just released a new CD,
At Fulsom Prison (CK 65955), of the full concert. They
should do the same for his later concert at San Quentin.
Anyway, "Busted" and "John Henry" sound pretty identical to
the master versions on his 1963 album Blood, Sweat, and
Tears, but I haven't heard this song anywhere before. It's
track 13 on the new CD.
He plays "Joe Bean" on a solo acoustic guitar, after
"Flushed From The Bathroom of Your Heart." The quote below
is his segway into "Joe Bean," which he said over the
"Last time, last time we were here at Folsom Prison they
were hanging Joe Bean. Is Joe still here? Joe Bean?
Hang the son of a bitch anyway, right?"
Well, they're hanging Joe Bean this morning for killing a
man in Arkansas. Funny thing about it is Joe Bean has
never been to Arkansas, and on top of that Joe Bean never
heard of the man. In fact, today is Joe Bean's twentieth
Just twenty ......
G D G
You die .......
Verse 2:as verse 1, then
Yes, they're hanging .......
G D G
That Joe Bean ......
"Happy birthday, Joe Bean"
This song is all strumming. Over the spoken introduction
he strums a G chord once before speaking, and then once for
every other beat in a verse. The second-to-last strum (on
"today") is arpeggiated, and the last (after "twentieth
birthday") is done one string at a time. He's not keeping
time, but I guess if the last two chords were tabbed it
would look like this:
The main body of the song is standard Johnny Cash
strumming. He plays some bass notes independent of the
chords sometimes, but there's no real picking pattern.
The first verse only consists of four lines. The rest are
all six lines long.
In the fourth verse, on "It's not up to me, but this much,
Joe Bean, I'll do," he interrupts the rhythm of his
strumming. He strums G on "not" and mutes the strings.
He plays arpeggiated chords on "me" (C chord), "much"
(G chord), "Bean" (D chord), and "do" (G chord).
The last line, "Happy birthday, Joe Bean" is sung without
the guitar, to the tune of the first line of the happy
There is a capo on the third fret, and he mutes the high E
string through the whole song.
G C D
Comments and corrections can be mailed to
Posted December, 1999