About The Song

“Folsom Prison Blues” is a country/rockabilly song that expresses the laments of a fictional inmate at Folsom Prison who wishes he could ride a nearby train away from his confinement and to San Antonio. Johnny Cash wrote the song in 1953 while stationed in Germany serving in the Air Force. Cash was inspired to pen the song after seeing the Hollywood drama film “Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison.”

In 1954 Cash recorded the song at Sun Records, the Memphis legendary music studio owned and operated by Sam Phillips. Phillips discovered and recorded some of America’s more revolutionary talent including Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Howling Wolf.

Folsom Prison Blues was Cash’s second record released from Sun and with Luther Perkins ear catching guitar licks it became a hit, peaking at #4 on the Billboard Country Western Best Sellers chart.

Cash’s first prison performance occurred in 1957 when he performed for inmates at Huntsville State Prison. The favorable response inspires the country legend to perform at more prisons through the years.

On January 13th 1968 Johnny Cash recorded a concert at Folsom Prison for the inmates. Four months later “At Folsom Prison” was released. It hit number one on the Country Music charts and cracked the top 15 for the national charts. As a single, “Folsom Prison Blues” was a top 40 hit. This new version of Cash’s old song was a little more uptempo and was punctuated with hollers of approval from the incarcerated.



I hear the train a comin’
It’s rolling 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

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 blowing, I hang my head and cry

I bet there’s rich folks eating in a fancy dining car
They’re probably drinkin’ coffee and smoking big cigars
Well I know I had it coming, I know I can’t be free
But those people keep a movin’
And that’s what tortures me

Well if they freed me from this prison
If that railroad train was mine
I bet I’d move it on 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

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