Sunday, August 25, 2013

Johnny Cash - At Folsom Prison

At Folsom Prison is the quintessential Johnny Cash album because it both encapsulates everything the man was about and captures him in one of his best live performances. If an alien were to land on this planet and ask what Johnny Cash was all about, this is the album you would hand them. It just is.

Johnny Cash was a longtime proponent of prison reform. The man had done some time behind the bars himself, so he knew what he was talking about. When he rolled his show into Folsom Prison, he presented a perfect show for the inmates who were lucky enough to see it. Cash wrote "Folsom Prison Blues" for the occasion, and it became one of his best-known songs. For some reason, the inmates all cheered uproariously when they heard the line "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die." I've never understood their reaction to that line, and I don't know if I ever will. Anyway, if you've ever want to hear people enjoying a concert in a way nobody has since a few corseted dainties passed out at a Franz Liszt show, this is your album. It's perfect in every way.

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