Folsom Prison Blues


Most people in the United States are familiar with Folsom, but likely only because of its prison. Folsom Prison has been (and still is) the home of many of California’s most famous criminals. Perhaps the most famous of Folsom’s residents has been legendary singer, Johnny Cash… too bad he was never an inmate!

Johnny Cash made Folsom Prison famous with the 1956 #1 hit “Folsom Prison Blues”. Though he sings about being stuck in Folsom Prison, he never really was an inmate. He did spend some time in various county jails during his youth, but he was not an actual prisoner of Folsom’s famous maximum-security prison.

In 1969, The “man in black” recorded a concert at Folsom Prison, and was captured in time with his “Live at Folsom Prison” album. Shouting, cursing, and slamming of cell doors can be heard throughout the album to give it a bit more of a dramatic effect.

It’s a cool box set, with the full unedited versions of both concerts played at the prison, and a documentary of the recordings.

I hear the train a comin’
It’s rollin’ ’round the bend,
And I ain’t seen the sunshine,
Since, I don’t know when,
I’m stuck in Folsom Prison,
And time keeps draggin’ on,
But that train keeps a-rollin’,
On down to San Antone.

When I was just a baby,
My Mama told me, “Son,
Always be a good boy,
Don’t ever play with guns,”
But I shot a man in Reno,
Just to watch him die,
When I hear that whistle blowin’,
I hang my head and cry.

Cash’s life and visit to Folsom Prison were portrayed in the November 2005 movie “Walk the Line“, starring Joaquin Phoenix.

Cash at Folsom Prison with June Carter.

  Cash performs at Folsom Prison in 1968.
[ More photos of Cash at Folsom Prison ]