Thursday, January 13, 2011
It's not that Johnny Cash recording an album - even a live album - was such an achievement; Cash was - and still is - one of the most prolific recording artists in American history...
The fact that he not only recorded an album entitled At Folsom Prison - which he actually recorded live at the actual Folsom Prison, and for an audience of actual convicts, no less! - was something that the music press and the general public at the time had some trouble getting their heads around. Yet Cash had been sensitive to the plight of the incarcerated ever since seeing the film Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison (1951) while in the service, and it obviously made an impression on him; shortly thereafter he wrote this song, Folsom Prison Blues, which became a staple of his set list.
His appearance at Folsom Prison on this day in 1968 was not Cash's first prison concert nor would it be his last; in fact, At Folsom Prison was so popular the following year he recorded Johnny Cash at San Quentin*. Nor were his sympathies only with American prisoners; in 1972 Cash recorded På Österåker at Sweden's Österåker Prison - which was released the following year - and on which he can be heard speaking Swedish!
The secret to success in any field is consistency, and consistency is the hallmark of Johnny Cash's life and works; in his private life Cash advocated for prison reform, going so far as to use his fame to gain access to President Richard Nixon to discuss the cause in 1972.
*Which is where this clip comes from...
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