"Folsom Prison Blues" is a song written in 1953 and first recorded in 1955 by American singer-songwriter Johnny Cash. The song combines elements from two popular folk styles, the train song and the prison song, both of which Cash continued to use for the rest of his career. It was one of Cash's signature songs. A live version, recorded among inmates at Folsom State Prison itself, became a #1 hit on the country music charts in 1968. In June 2014, Rolling Stone ranked it No. 51 on its list of the 100 greatest country songs of all time. Cash took the melody for the song and many of the lyrics from Gordon Jenkins's 1953 Seven Dreams concept album, specifically the song "Crescent City Blues". Jenkins was not credited on the original record. In the early 1970s, after the song became popular, Cash paid Jenkins a settlement of approximately US$75,000 following a lawsuit. Cash opened most all of his concerts with "Folsom Prison Blues," after greeting the audience with his trademark introduction, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash," for decades. Cash performed the song at Folsom Prison itself on January 13, 1968, and this version was eventually released on the At Folsom Prison album the same year.That opening version of the song is more up-tempo than the original Sun recording. According to Michael Streissguth, the cheering from the audience following the line "But I shot a man in Reno / just to watch him die" was added in post-production. A special on the Walk the Line DVD indicates that the prisoners were careful not to cheer at any of Cash's comments about the prison itself, fearing reprisal from guards.
****REFORMATTED for PDF Songbook March 30, 2019 - SR****
A video for this song: