Ten Favorite Songs About Trains: Folsom Prison Blues (#1)

@FourWalls (13807)
United States
March 11, 2017 11:45am CST
And so another series pulls into the train depot on its final stop. I've been looking at my ten favorite songs that are about trains explicitly, or where trains play a vital role in the song, without the word train actually being in the title. I'll post my favorite song with the word "train" later. Meanwhile, here's the most obvious champion of this countdown. #1: Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash Anyone surprised? Anyone at all?? This song was a hit twice. Back in 1955, in his early Sun days, Johnny Cash recorded this song about a convicted murderer who is tormented by the sound of freedom just outside the prison (California's Folsom): the train that allows everyone outside to "keep a-movin', and that's what tortures me." Then, 13 years later, Cash's live version, recorded at the eponymous prison, was released by Columbia Records as a single. It has easily remained one of Cash's most popular songs from its first release up until this day. The iconic Luther Perkins guitar riff that opened the song was the opening to Cash's ABC variety series (and frequently Homer and Jethro would spoof it in the opening skit where, regardless of what they were doing, they would "hear that train a-comin'" and it would run over them in classic Road Runner and Coyote slapstick style). Oh, and Johnny plagiarized it. In the 70s he paid over $75,000 to Gordon Jenkins after it was determined that "Folsom Prison Blues" wouldn't have existed without Jenkins' "Crescent City Blues." Stolen, or "heavily borrowed" (e.g., George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord"). Either way, this is a classic song. Thanks for reading. Folsom Prison Blues Written by Johnny Cash Based on "Crescent City Blues" by Gordon Jenkins Recorded by Johnny Cash From Johnny Cash and His Hot Blue Guitar, 1955 Also from Live at Folsom Prison, 1968 And no, Johnny Cash was never incarcerated in a prison:
Whilst I have a rather different world view from the late great Johnny Cash, I'm nevertheless a big fan. He's the reason I first picked up a guitar in 2003. ...
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10 responses
@TheHorse (66044)
• Pleasant Hill, California
11 Mar 17
Is this the one where he "shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die"? If so, why is he in prison in California? Life is full of mysteries.
3 people like this
@FourWalls (13807)
• United States
11 Mar 17
He probably shot a guy in Sacramento, too, but that wouldn't fit in the melody pattern of the song.
3 people like this
@FourWalls (13807)
• United States
11 Mar 17
Or maybe he shot a man in the Reno, whatever part of the body that is.
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@TheHorse (66044)
• Pleasant Hill, California
11 Mar 17
@FourWalls Yeah, I figgered maybe he shot a few, an the Reno one was just to show how mean he was. Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, Rancho Palos Verdes. Just doesn't have the same effect.
2 people like this
@Corbin5 (106697)
• United States
11 Mar 17
Did not know Johnny Cash plagiarized this one. Oh well, great rendition by Cash.
3 people like this
@TheHorse (66044)
• Pleasant Hill, California
11 Mar 17
I didn't know that it was a hit twice either!
3 people like this
• Bournemouth, England
11 Mar 17
I guess stealing it kind of fitted in with its theme! Have you seen that YouTube clip with a boy of about five singing this while strumming a guitar? The audience laughs when he sings 'When I was a baby' (yeah, all that time ago!)
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@TheHorse (66044)
• Pleasant Hill, California
12 Mar 17
Haven't seen it. I like saying "I knew you when you were little" to 3-year-olds I've known since birth.
2 people like this
@JohnRoberts (57396)
• Los Angeles, California
15 Mar 17
I think maybe I have heard this one a time or two....
1 person likes this
@spiderdust (6148)
• San Jose, California
12 Mar 17
A great song by the Man in Black. I love the "chugga chugga" train rhythm of this song.
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@teamfreak16 (41181)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
12 Mar 17
Oh yes, what else could it have been? Cool series!
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@AliCanary (1809)
11 Mar 17
I always thought the live version was a bit creepy because of the way the inmates cheered when he said he shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. I guess "in prison" was the right place for them!
1 person likes this
@amadeo (66095)
• United States
11 Mar 17
thank you for the video and article.I always love this one.
1 person likes this
@dfollin (12744)
• United States
11 Mar 17
I love this song. I loved Johnny Cash.
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@megatron777 (3778)
• Guam
11 Mar 17
This is good.
1 person likes this