At Folsom Prison – Johnny Cash (1968)

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Although “At Folsom Prison” has its fun, rather light moments, it’s an utterly affecting and devastating album. Quite frankly, “At Folsom Prison” makes me think very deeply and introspectively about my life; that is, it makes me think about who I am and where I’m going in life. Hence, this is indeed a special album to me. Undoubtedly raw and emotive, “Folsom” is monumentally beautiful. This is its appeal, at least for me personally.

Onto the man himself, Johnny Cash. Cash has such a commanding presence and candid mien throughout the album’s entire runtime that it simply makes it a joy to listen to. Specifically, his voice is melancholy-laden and that is his immense skill: singing in an entirely unwavering and magnetic way, such that we’re wholly immersed into his lonesome, somber world.

This is a near perfect masterpiece: from the very first words of “Folsom Prison Blues” to the very ending notes of “Grey Stone Chapel”, we realize how immersive and special this album truly is. Interestingly, I have several favorite tracks from here; yes, several. You read correctly fellow reader. Several because this album is so goddamn good. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

“Dark As a Dungeon” is a wholly depressing and dismal cover: the dreariness that pervades throughout the song’s runtime affects the mind rather deeply and poignantly. That is, we live through Cash’s woes and laments rather vividly.

 

Eerily enthralling, “The Long Black Veil” capitalizes on the element of melancholy pervading this album; and it does so expertly. Incredibly sad and sung with such candid and bare passion, “Veil” is extraordinarily dense.

 

“Green, Green Grass of Home” is one of the saddest, most poignant songs I’ve ever heard. With that, please give it a listen.

 

Closing the album is a bluesy, soul-tinged country masterpiece. In that, we find ourselves attentively listening to the entirely lived-in and wondrously poignant “Greystone Chapel”. Such a kinetic, monumental album closer: “Inside the walls of prison my body may be. But the lord has set my soul freeeeee”. Exquisite. Simply exquisite.

 

All in all, “At Folsom Prison” is a cathartic, nonpareil country masterpiece. Certainly one of the best live albums I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear.

My Grade: B-

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