"Folsom Prison Blues" Johnny cash

Johnny Cash

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

This first stanza is written in a way that shows Johnny singing in the position of someone who is jailed in Folsom Prison. He has been stuck inside for so long that he doesn't remember how long. Time doesn't pass quickly enough when you're in prison. There is a train that passes by and never stops.

Johnny Cash

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

His mother told him to never play with guns, but he had other ideas. He shot a man in cold blood in Reno. Now he sits in prison and listens to the whistle of the train as it goes by. He feels sadness at the fact that he is going to sit in prison for forever.

Johnny Cash

I bet there's rich folks eatin'

In a fancy dining car

They're probably drinkin' coffee

And smokin' big cigars

But I know I had it comin'

I know I can't be free

But those people keep a-movin'

And that's what tortures me

He feels almost jealous that there are other people riding on this train that passes the prison and that they are living lavishly while he is stuck sitting in a prison cell. He realizes that it is his fault that he is in prison and knows that he should not have killed someone if he wanted to be free. The people on the train that keeps moving passed the prison are what he wants his life to be like.

Johnny Cash

Well, if they freed me from this prison

If that railroad train was mine

I bet I'd move out over a little

Farther down the line

Far from Folsom Prison

That's where I want to stay

And I'd let that lonesome whistle

Blow my blues away

He's now mentioning what he would do if he ever got out of prison. He would move the train farther away so that none of the inmates had to listen to it and have the same thoughts as him about riding the train. He would want to be far away from Folsom Prison if he ever were to get out. He would stay on the train and let it take away his sadness about being locked up. He would try to enjoy his life if he ever got out of prison.

Johnny Cash

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