Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison – Johnny Cash (1968)

Album no. 115/1001

Hello. I’m Johnny Cash… and this particular album went number 1 on the Billboard charts. It was also his 27th (!!!) album, so he knows what he’s doing.

At this point in his career, our mate Johnny had hit a bit of a low point, and was hoping to hit the big time again with a live album. Although this is the first live album recorded in a prison, it wasn’t the first show he’d performed in one. Just to make sure the recordings were up to snuff, he actually did two concerts – one at 9.40 AM and one at 12.45 AM.

Seems like a pretty good time to have a concert – at least, based on this album.

Have you listened to this album before?

CL: I haven’t! I mean, I’ve seen Walk The Line, so I’m basically a Johnny Cash expert.

NK: I haven’t either. I have heard the other one, San Quentin, but not this.

Standout track

CL: ‘I Got Stripes’ is one of my favourites, so I’m glad that’s on here (in Walk The Line that’s where he collapses on stage in Las Vegas after taking too many drugs).  There are a lot of songs on here that’d I’d never heard before – ‘25 Minutes To Go’ is SO GREAT. I just wish his voice sounded a little stronger. On ‘Cocaine Blues’ he’s in struggletown with his croaky chords (in Walk The Line this is the song he actually performs in the Folsom Prison scene).  

NK: I agree with you about ‘I got Stripes’, but I love ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ even more than that. ‘Long Black Veil’ is really good here as well, and ‘Give My Love To Rose’ is real sad.

CL: I definitely prefer the more upbeat ones, but having said that ‘Dark As The Dungeon’ is excellent (that song doesn’t appear in Walk The Line, just FYI).

NK: How can you say you like the upbeat ones and then list ‘25 Minutes To Go’ as being so great? I love it as well, but it is pretty far from upbeat!

CL: I mean upbeat as in – “This sounds jaunty and fun! The band’s all here! Wait, huh? Oh, he’s waiting for what? Oh. Oh I see what he did there.” Also, it’s been described as “gallows humour” – so, that’s sort of upbeat?

When would be the best time to listen to this?

CL: JUST AFTER YOU’VE WATCHED WALK THE LINE OBVIOUSLY.

NK: All I really remember from that movie is when he plays ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ in the audition (“Do you have anything against the air force?” “No” “Well I do”) and thinking that June Carter should have found somebody else to go out with. Anyway, I think the best time to listen to this is if you’re trying to convince yourself not to commit a murder. There are a lot of songs about how it’s not much fun to be in prison.

Why has this album been included on the list?

CL: How many albums have been recorded in a prison?! Surely this could never happen today.

NK: Also how good is his voice?

CL: Aside from the location being a novelty, it’s such a great live album. The banter! “No laughing during the song!”

NK: My favourite banter was the bit in ‘Long Black Veil’ where he sings “I’d been in the arms of my best friend’s wife” and somebody in the audience cheers and it really makes him laugh. “Did I hear somebody applaud?” Great stuff.

Will you be listening again?  

CL: Yes. I definitely will. I already have! I’m so close to giving it 5 stars.

NK: Yeah for sure.

Rating

CL: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

NK: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

Listen to Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.

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