Listen to Johnny Cash’s Newly Released Live Version of ‘Cocaine Blues’ From 1968

by Jim Casey

It’s not every day you get to hear new music from Johnny Cash, but today is your day. Johnny’s never-heard live rendition of “Cocaine Blues” from his 1968 concert at the Carousel Ballroom is now available.

“Cocaine Blues” is one of 28 tracks featured on the upcoming album, Johnny Cash at the Carousel Ballroom, which will drop on September 24. Johnny performed at the Carousel Ballroom in San Francisco on April 24, 1968. Of course, Johnny released two groundbreaking live albums in the late 1960s: 1968’s At Folsom Prison and 1969’s At San Quentin. Sandwiched in between Johnny’s prison concerts, he stepped onto the stage at the counterculture venue, Carousel Ballroom, in the heart of Haight-Ashbury. The Carousel was briefly operated as a collective by Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead. Later, the venue was rebranded as the Fillmore West.

Johnny’s concert at the Carousel was captured by audio engineer Owsley “Bear” Stanley. The upcoming record marks the newest entry from the Bear’s Sonic Journals series, which has featured live recordings of Doc & Merle Watson, Tim Buckley, The Allman Brothers Band, and more.

‘Cocaine Blues’ Transformation

Johnny recorded “Transfusion Blues” on his 1960 album, Now, There Was a Song. With some minor lyric changes, the tune morphed into “Cocaine Blues,” which Johnny performed as the opening track on his 1968 album, At Folsom Prison. Johnny recorded a studio version of “Cocaine Blues” on his 1979 album, Silver.

Johnny’s 1968 version of “Cocaine Blues” at the Carousel features backing by his iconic band, The Tennessee Three (Luther Perkins, Marshall Grant, and W.S. Holland), as well as his new bride, June Carter Cash.

In addition, Johnny Cash as the Carousel Ballroom includes Cash classics “Jackson,” “Ring of Fire,” “I Walk the Line,” “I’m Going to Memphis,” and more.

The upcoming album includes new essays by Johnny and June Carter Cash’s son John Carter Cash, Starfinder Stanley, The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, and Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools. The album also features new art by Susan Archie, and a reproduction of the original Carousel Ballroom concert poster by Steve Catron.

  1. Cocaine Blues
  2. Long Black Veil
  3. Orange Blossom Special (CD and Digital only)
  4. Going to Memphis
  5. The Ballad of Ira Hayes
  6. Rock Island Line
  7. Guess Things Happen That Way
  8. One Too Many Mornings
  9. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
  10. Give My Love to Rose
  11. Green, Green Grass of Home
  12. Old Apache Squaw
  13. Lorena
  14. Forty Shades of Green
  15. Bad News
  16. Jackson
  17. Tall Lover Man
  18. June’s Song Introduction
  19. Wildwood Flower
  20. Foggy Mountain Top
  21. This Land Is Your Land
  22. Wabash Cannonball
  23. Worried Man Blues
  24. Long Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man
  25. Ring of Fire
  26. Big River
  27. Don’t Take Your Guns to Town
  28. I Walk the Line