Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison fully captures Cash’s gritty intensity and hard-headed humanity, capturing a high-energy set performed for an equally spirited audience. With a set list tailored for the occasion, Cash focuses on songs dealing with crime and imprisonment, balancing dark subject matter with wry, playful humor. The album opens, appropriately enough, with the venerable “Folsom Prison Blues,” and continues with such outlaw anthems as “Cocaine Blues,” “25 Minutes to Go, “The Wall” and “I Got Stripes,” alongside such Cash classics as “I Still Miss Someone,” “Orange Blossom Special” and “Jackson,” with the latter track featuring Cash’s wife and frequent duet partner June Carter. The album closes on an inspirational note with “Greystone Chapel,” a song written by convict Glen Shirley, which Cash and his band learned especially for this show.
Johnny Cash’s five-decade musical career was loaded with bigger-than-life landmark moments. None were more memorable than the Man in Black’s historic concerts at Folsom Prison and San Quentin State Prison, and the beloved albums that documented those shows. Cash’s passion for prison reform and rehabilitation inspired him to perform a series of concerts for inmate audiences, and two of these unique events were documented on Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison and Johnny Cash at San Quentin. These albums, originally released in 1968 and 1969 respectively, remain among Cash’s best-selling and best-loved recordings. At the time of their original release, they revitalized his career, and played a crucial role in his crossover from the country music world to the mainstream pop charts.