Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (Columbia / Legacy)

Box Sets

Johnny Cash

Johhny Cash at Folsom Prison (Columbia/Legacy)

According to Cash biographer Michael Streissguth in the liner notes to this 2-CD/1-DVD set, "few of Cash's associates and musicians remember that he recorded two concerts [at Folsom] that day." Listening to the full shows, it's easy to see why. The performances are noticeably sluggish in the later set, and the timing of the stage banter – nearly all of which was canned, right down to Cash's request for water – is off. Cash was no doubt tired, but it's tempting to imagine that only a single great take of these powerful songs was possible, an idea given credence by "Give My Love to Rose" and the blazing "I Got Stripes," which appear only in the second set and are its strongest performances. Because the two set lists are nearly identical, with almost all of the first takes represented on the existing At Folsom Prison CD, the second set is a curiosity. Carl Perkins' opening songs are more interesting, though they're laughably outmatched by four wonderful tracks from the Statler Brothers. In the end, the purpose of the box is less to provide new listening material than to reaffirm the 1968 concert as the pivotal event of Cash's career and the distillation of a quest to humanize the condemned. This job is partly accomplished through Hugh Cherry's introduction, which treats the prisoners with an uncommon degree of respect and equity. Folsom Prison finishes with a DVD documentary, which interweaves a thumbnail biography, musings on the prison system, animated (and pretty odd) interpretations of four songs, and sketches of the parallel stories of Glen Sherley, an imprisoned songwriter Cash tried unsuccessfully to rescue following the concert, and Millard Dedmon, another inmate deeply affected by the show who found his own path to redemption.

***

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Johnny Cash
DVDs
Johnny Cash
The Johnny Cash Christmas Specials: 1976-1979 (Record Review)

Jim Caligiuri, Dec. 26, 2008

Rock & Roll Books
Johnny Cash: The Biography
Gift guide

Jim Caligiuri, Nov. 30, 2007

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Kinky Friedman
Resurrection (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Jan. 3, 2020

Texas Platters
The Beaumonts / Hickoids
This Is Austin, All the World's a Dressing Room (Record Review)

Kevin Curtin, Jan. 3, 2020

More by Daniel Mee
Texas Platters
Black Cock
Robot Child With a God Complex (Record Review)

April 17, 2009

Live Shots
Dirty Projectors
SXSW showcase reviews

March 20, 2009

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Johnny Cash

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle