Country music legend Johnny Cash felt like an Outsider for most of his life. This feeling inspired one of his most iconic songs “Folsom Prison Blues.” The hit song was released on Dec. 15, 1955.
Johnny Cash’s Signature Song
Cash wrote the hit song in 1953 after seeing the movie “Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison.” Though Cash hadn’t been in jail, that happens in 1965, he was still inspired by the penitentiary.
He recorded and released the song in 1955. Cash combines the popular folk styles, the train song, and the prison song, making it one of his signature tracks. “Folsom Prison Blues” is the eleventh track on his debut album With His Hot and Blue Guitar. The same version is also included on All Aboard the Blue Train.
Furthermore, the legendary singer-songwriter recorded a live version among the inmates at Folsom State Prison. The performance took place on January 13, 1968.
‘Folsom Prison Blues’ Changes Cash’s Life
At this point in his life, Cash was close to reaching rock bottom. His record label had threatened to drop him. His addiction to pills was out of control and his personal life was in tatters. The singer had even contemplated suicide, The Washington Post shares.
However, Cash supposedly felt like he could relate to the prisoners at Folsom Prison. After all, he had written about them for years.
After the performance, Cash left as a changed man. One that would go on to become more popular than before and find success that continued to define his career.
This version of “Folsom Prison Blues’ was released as a single. As a matter of fact, it went onto gain No. 1 status on the country music charts in 1968.
The live performance of the song won Cash the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. This song garnered Cash his first Grammy award at the 1969 Grammy Awards.
The “Ring of Fire” singer opened almost all of his concerts with “Folsom Prison Blues.” Cash would always greet the audience with his trademark introduction, “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.”