January 13, 1968, or fifty-four years ago today, Johnny Cash recorded his first live album, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison. Of course, artist had recorded live albums before, but the Man in Black’s live album was a little different. It was recorded at a prison.
Cash’s career had been in decline because of dwindling commercial appeal and debilitating drug addiction. But by early 1968 Cash was in control of his addictions and was less than two months away from marrying June Carter. He was ready to turn his career around, and the performances at Folsom Prison were his way of doing just that.
Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison was wildly successful. It sold over 500,000 copies in its first year and was lauded by critics everywhere. At Folsom Prison became the first of four live albums Cash would record in prisons. His career was rejuvenated and he was back in the spotlight. After the success of Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, Cash got his own variety show, began recording more albums again, and generally became the legend that we all know now.
I could go on and on about this album, but I have a busy day ahead of me and the takeaway is that you should listen to the album, so here you go.
Have a great Thursday, and listen to Johnny Cash!