1001 Songs Challenge,  1950s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #80: Folsom Prison Blues (1956)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…


Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues (1956)

Folsom Prison Blues

” 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.

Lyrics (via Genius)
Learn more about this song (via Genius)


It’s a second appearance on this list from Johnny Cash but will it be the last? This one was inspired by a film, Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison (1951), that Cash saw and was entitled Folsom Prison Blues. Although first recorded in the 1950s, it would take a live version Cash performed in Folsom Prison to the inmates there to take this one high up in the charts. It’s considered one of Cash’s most famous songs.

Folsom Prison Blues is self-explanatory. Cash tells us the story of an inmate at Folsom Prison who hears a distant train going by and it takes him back through his life. Cash doesn’t hold back, telling us the narrator’s mother raised him to be good but instead he killed a man just to see what it was like. Prison came calling soon after and with each passing day those blues became ever greater. The only hope the inmate has now is dreaming of life outside Folsom Prison and how if he was there he would be as far away from prison as possible.

I loved I Walk the Line and Folsom Prison Blues is another gem from Cash. His voice is fantastic, the song is fast-paced and the music is purposefully akin to the movement of a train. The live version of the song is a real treat too as Cash entertains the grateful inmates of the real Folsom Prison and it opens with his modest but customary introduction of “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.” What more do you want?


Favourite songs so far:

Edith Piaf – La Vie en Rose (1946)

Elmore James – Dust My Broom (1952)

Little Richard – Tutti Frutti (1955)

Elvis Presley – Heartbreak Hotel (1956)

Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill (1956)

Johnny Cash – I Walk the Line (1956)

The Louvin Brothers – The Knoxville Girl (1956)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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1001 Songs Challenge #79: Take My Hand, Precious Lord (1956)

#79 on the 1001 Songs Challenge is Take My Hand, Precious Lord by Mahalia Jackson ...

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