49 Years Ago: Johnny Cash Plays Folsom Prison
Forty-nine years ago today, on Jan. 13, 1968, Johnny Cash played a concert at California's Folsom Prison. The show was recorded for his At Folsom Prison live album.
By the time Cash recorded his Folsom Prison live album, he had been performing at prisons for several years, after having his own run-ins with the law, mostly due to drugs. The country icon was joined for this live album recording by frequent performance companions June Carter (not yet his wife), the Carter Family, Carl Perkins and the Statler Brothers.
At Folsom Prison includes a live version of Cash's previous single "Folsom Prison Blues," which became a No. 1 hit after the live recording was released as a single. The song, which was originally written and recorded in 1955, was first featured on Cash's debut album, With His Hot and Blue Guitar.
"[I was] trying to think of the worst reason for killing another person," Cash said of the song's controversial lyric "I shot a man in Reno / Just to watch him die," adding, "It did come to mind quite easily, though."
The live version of "Folsom Prison Blues" stayed at the top of the charts for four weeks and is largely credited with reviving the Man in Black's career. Until that time, Cash had failed to have a No. 1 hit since topping the charts in 1964 with "Understand Your Man."
Other well-known songs on At Folsom Prison include "Cocaine Blues," "The Long Black Veil," "Green, Green Grass of Home" and "Jackson," the latter of which is a duet with Carter. The album is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon.
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