At Folsom Prison is one of the most beloved Johnny Cash recordings. The music here, more than on any other recording is imbued with his grit, his spirituality and his wry sense of humour. The set list was put together especially for the concert and the songs deal with subjects that would likely be close the inmates thoughts. It was because of this album that Johnny Cash earned the moniker The Man In Black.
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7/10 Penrith Steve 17th September 2015
Johnny Cash had become interested in performing in prisons ever since his 1956 song “Folsom Prison Blues” prompted letters from inmates asking him to perform there. The song was inspired by a documentary he’d seen about the prison. By the late ‘60s Cash’s career was on the wane due to his increasing dependence on drugs. Around the same time, maverick producer Bob Johnston (Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Simon & Garfunkel) had been put in charge of Cash’s output at Columbia records. Cash put the idea of a live album recorded in a prison to Johnston and Johnston made it happen.
The result is “At Folsom Prison”, a magnificent recording with Cash on top form, backed by his wife June Carter, Carl Perkins, the band responsible for ‘the Johnny Cash sound’, The Tennessee Three and a crowd who are cheering every anti-establishment lyric.
The songs were specially selected for the show. Rather than it just being a ‘greatest hits’ set it mixes crowd-pleasers such as “Folsom Prison Blues” which includes the line “I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die”, “Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog” and “Flushed From The Bathroom of Your Heart” with Songs such as “Busted”, “Cocaine Blues”, “Send a Picture of Mother” and “I Still Miss Someone” that require little explanation in this context. “25 Minutes to go” shows an amount of empathy for his audience: the lyrics count down the last minutes of a man waiting to be hung and includes the line “Nobody asked me how I feel I’ve got 22 minutes to go”
You get the impression that Johnny Cash is rejuvenated by this performance – a similar shot in the arm to his career that his American Recordings series gave him.
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