Johnny Cash's cover version

Well they closed down the auto plant in Mahwah late last month
Ralph went out looking for a job but he couldn't find none
He came home too drunk from mixing Tanqueray and wine
He got a gun, shot a night clerk, now they call him Johnny 99

Down at the part of town where when you hit a red light you don't stop
Johnny's waving his gun around and threatening to blow his top
When an off-duty cop snuck up on him from behind
In front of the Club Tip Top they slapped the cuffs on Johnny 99

Well the city supplied a public defender but the judge was Mean John Brown
He came into the courtroom and he stared poor Johnny down
Well the evidence is clear, gonna let the sentence fit the crime
98 and a year we'll make it even, Johnny 99

A fistfight broke out in the courtroom, they had to drag Johnny's girl away
His mama stood up and shouted, "Judge, don't take my boy this way"
Well son you got any statements you'd like to make
Before the bailiff comes to forever take you away

Yes, judge, I've got debts no honest man could pay
The bank was holding my mortgage, they was taking my house away
Now I ain't saying that makes me an innocent man
But it was more and all this that put that gun in my hand

And your honor I do believe I'd be better off dead
If you can take a man's life for the thoughts that are in his head
Then won't you sit back in that chair and think it over one more time
And let 'em shave off my hair and burn Johnny 99


The above lyrics are for Johnny Cash's cover version of Bruce Springsteen's JOHNNY 99. The song was released on Cash's 1983 album Johnny 99. The album also includes a cover of HIGHWAY PATROLMAN.

Johnny Cash -- Johnny 99
Johnny Cash -- Johnny 99

LP - Columbia (FC 38696) - USA, 1983

Includes two Bruce Springsteen covers: HIGHWAY PATROLMAN and JOHNNY 99.

Johnny 99 was recorded in April 1983 and was produced by Brian Ahern. It was released in September 1983 on Columbia Records.

In addition to HIGHWAY PATROLMAN and JOHNNY 99, Johnny Cash also recorded Bruce Springsteen's I'M ON FIRE and FURTHER ON (UP THE ROAD).

Other Official Releases

Various artists -- Cover Me
Various artists -- Cover Me

LP - Rhino (RNIN 70700) - USA, 1986
MC - Rhino (RNIC 70700) - USA, 1986

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. It was reissued in 1989 under the same title. It includes one track not found on the 1989 reissue and is missing three tracks found only on the 1989 reissue.
Various artists -- Cover Me
Various artists -- Cover Me

CD - Rhino (R2 70700) - USA, 1989

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. It's a reissue of the 1986 release of the same title. It includes three tracks not found on the 1989 reissue and is missing one track found only on the 1986 release.

Available Versions

List of available versions of JOHNNY 99 on this website:

JOHNNY 99 [Album version]
JOHNNY 99 [Home demo version 1]
JOHNNY 99 [Home demo version 2]
JOHNNY 99 [Live 21 Sep 1984 version]
JOHNNY 99 [Live 19 Aug 1985 version]
JOHNNY 99 [Live 18 Nov 2006 version]
JOHNNY 99 [Live 28 Jun 2009 version]
JOHNNY 99 [Live 21 Sep 2009 version]
JOHNNY 99 [Johnny Cash's cover version]

Page last updated: 25 May 2014