Live at Folsom Prison, to me is one of the best live albums out there. Listening to it, paints the perfect picture of an artist. Johnny’s iconic voice and rascally demeanor are depicted so well. As a teenager, my mom and my step-dad really got me hooked on that old country music, and Live at Folsom Prison, put country music into perspective for me. I remember listening to it, and without ever seeing his face I knew exactly what he looked like.
It showed me that the music formerly known as country, was actually the blues, with a waltz beat. The lyrics spoke of lonely men and women down on their luck trying to catch a break, or dying somewhere before serenity is reached. To me, no one did this style justice like Johnny Cash, and Live at Folsom Prison is the best of the best in the category.
The genius of playing songs portraying characters swallowed up by the blues to a bunch of in-mates is so perfect and poetic. As I listen to it, I can hear the real joy in his voice as he gives back a bit of happiness to a crowd of people that have lost their privilege to enjoy the world. He doesn’t sympathize for them or belittle them. He’s honest and helpful as he jokes with them and the men in that prison love every minute of it.
I think there is a political debate to come out of this, but I’ll leave it alone. All I will say is I believe everyone is entitled to happiness, and everyone deserves another chance, and I think it’s safe to say, so did Johnny.
This performance above all else, is quite possibly the best performance Johnny Cash has ever had. I have heard other live performances, and seen various footage of TV spots, but nothing touches Live at Folsom Prison. The guitar is crisp, his voice is deep and rich, the band sounds tight, and the banter is highly entertaining. Johnny really outdid himself on this masterpiece.
This album for me sparked a whole live album phase, and shortly after hearing Live at Folsom Prison I went to my first concert, well first unchaperoned concert. I won’t divulge the details of my first concert, but let’s just say I had a crush on a certain teen pop star that may or may not like to be Hit…..That is your only hint. My fascination for live music grew and grew and the live performance CD pile went higher and higher on my dresser. I have to thank Johnny Cash for showing me the way.
With that said, Happy Birthday to the Man in Black. He lived a full life and I’m sure it’s safe to say he didn’t regret a minute of it.