Dear Matthew Alice:
Could you tell me why, since "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die," I'm stuck in Folsom prison, in California?
-- J. Cash, San Diego
The true episode was too long to put into a pop song, so he never gave us all the details. And anyway, the real story had lots of words in it that were hard to rhyme.
Truth is, when the guy was shot in Reno, he was just winged. He falls backwards into Truckee, climbs into a boat, and takes off for Tahoe. Twenty miles later Cash catches up with him and finishes him off, and by then they're over the state line. They'd been fly fishing. Arguing which is better, a woolly bugger or a muddler. Cash felt strongly about the bugger. He also shot a man in Fresno once, but it wasn't worth writing a song about.