Today’s album is one of the more unique live albums ever recorded, “At Folsom Prison”. Inspired by one of his first singles, “Folsom Prison Blues”, Cash developed a rapport with prisoners across America, and even performed a song, “Greystone Chapel”, written by one of the inmates in this set while performing a recorded show in California’s Folsom State Prison. Very well received, the album is #164 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and is also the #1 rated album on tasteofcountry.com’s Top 10 Country Albums of All Time.
Johnny opens the show with “Folsom Prison Blues”, and plays a mixed set of ballads and up-tempo songs. One of the more interesting songs, given the setting, is “25 Minutes to Go”, a song performed in the voice of a man waiting to be executed on Death Row. He doesn’t shy away from other tough topics on songs like “Cocaine Blues” and “Dark as the Dungeon”. Despite these tough reminders, I have to think most really enjoyed the show as a brief respite from their depressing fate behind bars.
The concert is vintage Johnny Cash. With one of the most distinctive and recognizable voices in music, he takes full command from the very start. He performs one duet with his wife June, and he actually had Carl Perkins open the concert for him. By recording this album, and subsequently other live albums in a prison setting, Johnny Cash shed a new light on the human side of prison inmates, hoping to be a positive influence for each of them so they could make the most of whatever their path was in life.