Mean as Hell Lyrics - Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash Johnny Cash Sings the Ballads of the True West cover art
publisher: ©Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
writers: Johnny R. Cash
release date: 1965
length: 3:08
producer: Don Law and Frank Jones
writer: Johnny Cash
The devil in hell, we're told was chained
A thousand years he there remained
He neither complain nor did he groan but
Was determined to start a hell of his own

Where he could torment the souls of men
Without being chained in a prison pen
So he asked the lord if he had on hand
Anything left when he made this land

The Lord said yes, there's a plenty on hand
But I left it down by the Rio Grande
The fact is ol' boy, the stuff is so poor
I don't think you could use it as the hell anymore

But the devil went down to look at the truck
And said if he took it as a gift he was stuck
For after lookin' that over carefully and well
He said this place is too dry for hell

But in order to get it off his hands
The Lord promised the devil to water the land
So trade was closed and deed was given
And the Lord went back to his home in heaven

And the devil said, now I got all what's needed
To make a good hell and he succeeded
He began by putting thorns all over the trees
He mixed up the sand with millions of fleas

He scattered tarantulas along the road
Put thorns on cactus and horns on toads
Lengthened the horns of the Texas steer
Put an addition to the rabbit's ear

Put a little devil in the bronco steed
And poisoned the feet of the centipede
The rattlesnake bites you, the scorpion stings
The mosquito delights you with his buzzing wings

The sunbursts are there and so the ants
And if you sit down
You'll need to have soles on your pants
The wild boar rooms on a high chapparel

It's a hell of a place that he has for hell
The heat in the summers are hundred and ten
Too hot for the devil, too hot for men
The red pepper grows upon the banks of the brook

The Mexican use it in all that he cook
Just dine in with one of 'em and you're bound to shout
I've hell on the inside as well as it out
My hands are calloused July to July

I use a Big Dipper to navigate by
Fight off the wolves who drink from my well
So I have to be mean as hell
A sheep-herder came and put up the fence

I saw him one day but I ain't seen him since
But if you need a mutton we got mutton to sell
We're cowpunchers and we're mean as hell
Neither me nor my pony's got a pedigree

But he takes me where I'm wantin' to be
I'll ride him to death and when he has fell
I'll get me another one mean as hell
I shot me a calf and I cut off her head

'Cause the boys in the bunkhouse are waitin' to be fed
They rise in chime with the five thirty bell
And the best one of any of 'em is mean as hell

  • 1 Hiawatha's Vision
  • 2 The Road to Kaintuck
  • 3 The Shifting, Whispering Sands, Part I
  • 4 The Ballad of Boot Hill
  • 5 I Ride an Old Paint
  • 6 Hardin Wouldn't Run
  • 7 Mister Garfield
  • 8 The Streets of Laredo
  • 9 Johnny Reb
  • 10 A Letter From Home
  • 11 Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie
  • 12 Mean as Hell
  • 13 Sam Hall
  • 14 25 Minutes to Go
  • 15 The Blizzard
  • 16 Sweet Betsy From Pike
  • 17 Green Grow the Lilacs
  • 18 Stampede
  • 19 The Shifting, Whispering Sands, Part II
  • 20 Reflections