Johnny Cash - Folsom Prison Blues by Ethan Branham

Johnny Cash is tells a story of a prisoner in Folsom. It combines two great folk song styles, trains and prisoners. John first wrote the song in 1953 when he was stationed in Germany serving in the Air Force. In 1968, Cash recorded a live version at Folsom prison in front of inmates that became a #1 hit on the country music charts. His country sound was so unique it stood apart form the crowd of Motown and R&B performers.

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

In this first verse, Johnny explains the hardships of day to day life of a regretful prisoner at Folsom. You can tell from the imagery of this verse that the prisoners life is just a cycle of listening the the trains roll by time and time again. He dreams of being on a train and leaving 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 tried thinking of the worst possible reason to kill someone when creating this verse. You can see the story of the prisoner reflects on how he should've listened to his mother. Now all he can do is regret as he hears the trains whistle rolling by.

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 wishes he could be out drinking and smoking cigars having a good time but he's suck in Folsom. He's tortured by the thought of others being free and enjoying life.

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

At the end he explains what he would do if they let him be free. He tells of how the prisoner would go far from Folsom and be happy. He would ride the trains far from anyone and just forget all of his "blues".

Credits:

Created with images by dwhartwig - "P1040084" • pzed - "Johnny Cash Sings the Songs that Made Him Famous - label, side 1" • obBilder - "e guitar instrument music" • pzed - "Johnny Cash Sings the Songs that Made Him Famous" • rockinred1969 - "Johnny Cash 1996 Oregon concert ad Poster"

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