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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

At Folsom Prison

Johnny Cash

1968

Buy At Rough Trade
At Folsom Prison
Album Summary

Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison is the first live album by American singer-songwriter Johnny Cash, released on Columbia Records on May 6, 1968. After his 1955 song "Folsom Prison Blues", Cash had been interested in recording a performance at a prison. His idea was put on hold until 1967, when personnel changes at Columbia Records put Bob Johnston in charge of producing Cash's material. Cash had recently controlled his drug abuse problems, and was looking to turn his career around after several years of limited commercial success. Backed by June Carter, Carl Perkins, and the Tennessee Three, Cash performed two shows at Folsom State Prison in California on January 13, 1968. The album consists of 15 songs from the first show and two from the second. Despite little initial investment by Columbia, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison was a hit in the United States, reaching number one on the country charts and the top 15 of the national album chart. The lead single, a live version of "Folsom Prison Blues", was a top 40 hit, Cash's first since 1964's "Understand Your Man". At Folsom Prison received positive reviews and revitalized Cash's career, becoming the first in a series of live albums recorded at prisons that includes At San Quentin (1969), På Österåker (1973), and A Concert Behind Prison Walls (1976). The album was rereleased with additional tracks in 1999, a three-disc set in 2008, and a five LP box set with bonus rehearsals in 2018 for Record Store Day. It was certified triple platinum in 2003 for US sales exceeding 3.4 million.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.97

Votes

13475

Genres

  • Country

Reviews

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Tue Sep 14 2021
5

I guess I mistakenly thought I knew Johnny Cash, mostly through the radio and general consciousness, and I was not prepared for how incredible and just fuckin metal this album is. This dude is up there singing about murdering dudes to applause from murderers. if your black metal isn't this black, go the fuck home.

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Sun Feb 21 2021
5

One of the few live albums I've heard where the audience is just as much a part of the performance. The songs are great, Johnny's performance is charmingly flawed, but it's all about the atmosphere created by the little details: the inmate's reactions, Johnny's asides, and the warden's announcements.

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Sun Oct 10 2021
5

johnny cash performs in a prison sings about doing cocaine and shooting his wife the crowd cheers unfathomably based

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Mon Nov 23 2020
4

"This show is being recorded for an album release on Columbia Records, and you can't say 'hell' or 'shit' or anything like that." "How does that grab you, Bob?"

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Fri Mar 26 2021
5

(Listened to Before) One of the most genuine and authentic albums I’ve ever heard. I love it when he breaks mid-song to tell a joke or a laugh slips, especially when it’s in contrast to some soul-crushingly melancholy lyrics. I don’t really think there’s a bad track in the bunch. I love this album and the special place it takes me to every time I revisit it. Favorite Tracks: 25 Minutes to Go, Orange Blossom Special, The Long Black Veil, Dirty Old Egg-Suckin’ Dog, Jackson, Greystone Chapel Least Favorite Tracks: I Still Miss Someone

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Thu Jul 29 2021
5

Amazing album! Amazing that it was performed live and the flaws and asides and prison chatter add to the overall vibe, rather than detract. I'm normally not as much a fan of live music, but this was great all the way through.

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Tue Sep 14 2021
5

Look: even if the music wasn't great (which it is), the man sang about taking cocaine and shooting a bad bitch down to a group of cheering convicts, so this may as well get five mics on principle. The concept alone is novel and raw as hell, but once you throw in Cash's devil-may-care stage presence, the atmosphere set by the wardens' announcements over the PA and the more-than-receptive crowd (I'll spare you a line about a "captive audience" because I'm sure plenty of rock critics thought they were the first to come up with that gem), plus the impeccable choice in songs, you end up with one of the most entertaining records I've ever heard. Key Tracks: Cocaine Blues, Flushed from the Bathroom of Your Heart, Greystone Chapel

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Sat Feb 06 2021
5

I don't know anyone who doesn't like Johnny Cash, and this is him at his best. I love how it's a live album but he sounds about the same as in the studio, it's authentic as. 5/5.

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Sun Dec 19 2021
5

Fucking visceral. “I shot a man in Reno just to see him die” & they cheer… Best live album ever.

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Thu Jul 15 2021
5

Cash proves he is every measure the legend on this record. Even though the vast majority is covers, his crowd work is great and you can hear a pin drop on The Long Black Veil. Jackson is a cool duet. booing the warden on the last track is great

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Fri Nov 12 2021
4

Never listened to the album before though know a good few of the songs. It's bloody good. The context - what he's singing about IN A PRISON - is just great, really adds something

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Sat Apr 10 2021
5

We've had the greatest live album ever from Nirvana but this is bang there with it. Cash is at his best live. And when he combines that with doing this sorta outlaw country stuff he's peerless. Its fucking brilliant and I'm gonna have to bring out the 5 again. A superstar at the top of his game. 5/5

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Wed Jun 09 2021
5

I needed this so bad today. This dudes the fucking King. I need more stars...raw, authentic, fuck you. Yes!

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Sun Jul 25 2021
5

i don't believe there's much to be said here. it's johnny fucking cash at folsom fucking prison, with june fucking carter. to whom, if my chronology isn't way off, he was not yet married - so we witnessed it all, very raw, and very real. i also particularly loved that they didn't cut out the warden's(?) announcements, and what i believe was them slapping johnny in cuffs at the end.

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Sun Oct 24 2021
4

This was a great listen. I've been aware of this album for a long time and it's place in legend and lore. What little I know about Johnny Cash (nope, haven't seen the well-known documentaries or the super-famous biopic, but I would like to one day), I really like him as a person. As a musician, his appeal is easy to see. He makes it seem all so familiar and casual, but with his own signature sound, style, and of course, voice. I have heard his music in various settings over the years and I like it. It's not something I gravitate strongly towards on a regular basis. I have a feeling if I had ever seen him play live, I'd have been a lifelong huge fan. Seems like that kind of performer and person.

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Mon Feb 14 2022
3

not bad, but too samey and I lost focus on this one

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Wed Jan 10 2024
4

Solid live album, especially considering the location and difficulties to make it happen. Some great gems throughout the set list, although there are a few songs that just kind of pass into the background. Clearly groundbreaking, but not quite a 5-star for me.

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Sun Jan 23 2022
3

Not bad but actually somewhat boring. Slow pace, similar style of all the songs, just not memorable

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Tue Jan 05 2021
5

Really good stuff. I might just go and get obsessed with Johnny Cash now

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Mon Aug 09 2021
5

So this album is great. Obviously. And, taken by itself, it's a masterpiece live album against which other live albums should be measured which is why it's earned a 5-star review from me. That said, I'm unclear as to why this list contains both "At Folsom Prison" and "At San Quentin" since they're essentially the same album. The amount of deja vu that I experienced listening to this after having listened to the other was uncomfortable. Sure the tracks (barring one, "Folsom Prison Blues", which is on both albums) are all different but the banter, lyrical content, and delivery is so similar that you'd be hard pressed, if the tracks were mixed up, to tell which song went on which album.

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Sat Oct 02 2021
5

I mean Johnny fucking nails this performance for a number of reasons, but to me one of the standout moments is with June on Jackson, as she surprises me with her power and what it adds to the record. Instant classic.

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Sat Oct 02 2021
5

The best live album ever recorded. Bar none.

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Mon Feb 28 2022
5

Möglicherweise das Beste Live-Album als Live-Album. Die Interaktion zwischen Cash und den Insassen, der Jubel bei »just to watch him die«, die währenddessen ununterbrochenen Abläufe des Gefängnisses – einfach unglaublich.

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Thu Feb 02 2023
5

makes you wanna take a shot of cocaine and shoot a man in reno

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Tue Dec 05 2023
5

Really entertaining - one of the best live album atmospheres I've heard captured on record. Started off thinking it might make a interesting listen but nothing more, and ended up being the fastest I've bought an album from this list. Great stuff [edit: "Hot Rats" currently holds the instant classic title, but this is still 2nd]

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Fri Jul 16 2021
4

I suppose my detailed comments on the San Quentin review apply here. I have loads of respect for Johnny doing these prison shows. Giving something to people who have nothing deserves our respect. As was the case at San Quentin, he performs a song written by a prisoner in the audience and gives him credit and a piece of the royalties. The song is Greystone Chapel which is a bible thumpin song. Normally not my thing but Johnny used religion to help him get off drugs and booze so it's understandable that this made him a tad evangelical about his religion. I'll leave my different opinion on religion at the door. Highlights from the first 5 songs (I stopped the list after that): Folsum Prison Blues( one of his best songs ever) Cocaine BLues, 25 Min to go Since I gave San Quentin a 5 I can't give another 5 to Johnny.

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Wed Dec 30 2020
5

1968. Key Songs: Folsom Prison Blues, Cocaine Blues

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Wed May 19 2021
5

You already fuckin kno. A quintessential bop all the way through.

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Sun Jan 17 2021
5

One of the greatest of all time.

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Sat May 29 2021
5

A true legend, a phenomenal performance. The stars aligned perfectly to make this perfect album, a snapshot in time of an artist's career unlike any other.

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Fri Jul 16 2021
5

What a legendary album. I just love his interactions with the inmates, it makes the music even more powerful. I don't remember hearing the announcements and chit chat at the end, I like that they didn't cut that off.

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Wed Mar 17 2021
5

what a wild, brilliant work.

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Mon Feb 08 2021
5

Johnny Cash is the real deal. This is one of the coolest albums I've ever listened to. I love the crowd work, and you can tell he was playing for each individual in that room. Great great great work!

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Sat Jan 30 2021
5

Alles Super. Musik. Setting.

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Tue Jan 19 2021
5

Really nice vibe in the prison

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Tue Feb 09 2021
5

Quando uma pessoa com um talento real consegue transmitir a verdade dele, com todas as incongruências, defeitos e qualidades, um álbum como esse é o resultado.

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Thu Feb 11 2021
5

Legendary performance from one of the all time greats

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Sat May 08 2021
5

Excellent live album, love the asides and the total bizarreness of it all

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Mon May 31 2021
5

One of the greatest live albums of all time. Fact. BT: Folsom Prison Blues, I Still Miss Someone, Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart

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Sat Feb 27 2021
5

An amazing live experience. Loved it.

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Thu Apr 29 2021
5

For et fantastisk live-album! Følelsene til publikum er så tydelige at man blir transportert til en overfylt kafeteria i et skittent amerikansk fengsel. Cash var nok aldri kriminell, men han spiller rollen perfekt med tøffe kommentarer og bokstavelig talt galge-humor. Folsom Prison Blues er nok høydepunktet, men stemninga holder hele veien, og blir løfta litt ekstra av en kvinnelig vokalist mot slutten.

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Wed Apr 14 2021
5

Classic live, music does magic anywhere

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Thu Apr 01 2021
5

Has to be in the discussion for greatest live album of all time.

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Mon May 17 2021
5

You can’t go wrong with Johnny Cash

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Tue May 11 2021
5

A deeply emotional and entertaining performance. The energy from the audience & Cash make for an incredible live album.

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Thu May 20 2021
5

Classic live performance. Feels like you're really in the audience.

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Wed Jul 21 2021
5

ICONISCH, Johny met prachtige verhalen in zijn nummers en dat in een gevangenis lets goo Cocaine blues is next level, deze gaat meer opgezet worden!

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Wed Jul 21 2021
5

GET THIS MAN A GLASS OF WATER!!! wat zou ik graag met deze man één wiskey’tje drinken. Het album is mooi en genieten. Ik ben echt fan van zen rustige nummers. Niet te veel honky tonky shit, dat verwacht ik niet van hem. Maar zeker de listen waard

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Wed Jul 21 2021
5

Dit is zoveel meer dan gewoon een album, zoveel meer dan gewoon een optreden. uitblinkers zijn sowieso: - folsom prison blues: gewoon top - flushed from the bathroom of your heart - greystone chapel: het verhaal hierachter is echt top, zeker achter de schrijver (zijn versie is ook goed)

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Wed Jul 21 2021
5

What a legend, what an album, what a venue, what a performance!

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Tue Jul 13 2021
5

O melhor dele fora da série de versões dos American. A concepção de álbum e do show é fantástica.

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Tue Jun 15 2021
5

Classic for a reason. This is a fantastic album. Does a good job of conveying the energy and comedic wit that he brought to live performances.

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Tue Jun 29 2021
5

Great album of a live performance, Johnny is having a great time laughing in the middle of songs and cracking jokes with the inmates and staff.

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Tue Aug 03 2021
5

100 stars. As iconic an album as exists.

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Sat Aug 07 2021
5

Couple of total classics, live from a prison too, so points for effort

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Mon Aug 09 2021
5

Alto rock and roll de guitarra acustica.

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Tue Sep 07 2021
5

I've known about this album for years but never actually listened to it. I loved it from start to finish. The whole performance is spectacular. All the little mistakes and jokes and bits just add to its charm. And there's something about prisoners cheering so loudly to songs about prison that makes you smile. Very special album. 25 minutes to go is my fave.

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Wed Sep 08 2021
5

I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.

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Tue Sep 14 2021
5

I don't like live albums UNLESS they bring something to the table, and this one does exactly that.

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Fri Sep 17 2021
5

I hate country, but now.... I love it. The record is very good.

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Wed Sep 22 2021
5

Such a good album. Brings a smile to my face.

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Wed Oct 20 2021
5

A perfect album. No skips. What an opening track! This album has it all—great songs, energy, sound, and the audience participation! The way JC interacts with the audience, his band mates… all that, and he was committed to playing for inmates.

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Thu Nov 11 2021
5

Despite being a live album, this s*** rocks! This kind of feels like hip-hop humble beginings. Melodies and rhymes are pretty darn good. 4.5/5

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Fri Nov 12 2021
5

Well, what an album. What a performer. Some gritty themes that increasingly... don't so much offend as carry no value for my ear and listening time. The harmony is Jackson is second to none. Two voices, dancing the eternal dance. Give My Love to Rose is another favorite, which I first listened to from the American Recording production (when Johnny was a few years from death). His voice at Folsom prison is younger, obviously. I'd never noticed Greystone Chapel before, written by an inmate at Folsom.

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Fri Nov 12 2021
5

New to me, but what a perfect album! This one is ironically upbeat in a good way. Great concept executed just right. He had the voice/style/personality to pull it off. I wouldn't listen to it over and over, but I like it for what it is.

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Mon Nov 15 2021
5

NO SKIPS. ALL FUN. great album tho fr

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Tue Nov 23 2021
5

Having heard of this famous album, I never realized how it really was live at a prison. The small interluded comments about guards and prisoners were wild.

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Thu Dec 09 2021
5

Brilliant album - real, honest & fun.

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Tue Dec 14 2021
5

Cool story behind this album. Great music, love Johnny singing the blues

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Thu Dec 16 2021
5

Not all of my favorite Cash tunes, but some real greats, and the story and legacy of playing for prisoners at prisons and just how cool this and Cash is brings a 4 of an album up to a 5.

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Thu Dec 16 2021
5

I love Johnny Cash and liked most of this album a lot. The songs about executions (the long black veil, 25 minutes to go) are pretty disturbing to me though, and I skip through them. Fun to hear the prison crowd and songs they liked. Struggling between a 4 and 5 on this one. Going 5, cuz it’s The Man in Black.

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Mon Dec 20 2021
5

Live, in una prigione e comincia proprio con 'Folsom Prison Blues' che parla di un assassino: brividi! Poi un live che non sia in uno stadio mantiene sempre una certa qualità, ma include comunque il pubblico e i commenti dell'artista che gli danno fascino. Le prime 5 sono una più bella dell'altra. Comunque tutto lo stile blues in accordo con la caldissima voce di Johnny Cash è fantastico. Jackson con June Carter <3

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Mon Dec 20 2021
5

So much character. Incredible country music recorded pretty well all things considered. Johnny Cash Highlights: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, and 16.

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Mon Jan 03 2022
5

Wonderful piece! The setlist, the energy, and the way how Johnny and his audience interacts make this album perfect. It’s like a modern ritual. Even the cover shows some type of intimacy: Johnny looking at you from above with his sweat dripping. I love it

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Tue Jan 04 2022
5

Un classique qui mérite amplement ça note. 5

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Mon Jan 10 2022
5

Exquisite! I am truly impressed that he was able to do this and that it didn't incite a riot. Great energy in the performance and the song selection is dynamite.

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Tue Jan 11 2022
5

Brilliant album, one of my dad's favourite artists. Folsom prison blues, give my love to rose, the hilarious flushed from the bathroom of your heart, and, of course, Jackson are awesome songs that I just keep coming back to

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Fri Jan 21 2022
5

Such a cool concert, the connection between Cash and the audience is great to hear. And the songs fit with the atmosphere so well.

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Tue Jan 25 2022
5

Such a good album! Love Johnny Cash!

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Fri Jan 28 2022
5

The Godfather of live prison albums, which in my book, means that it pales a bit to The Godfather Part II of live prison albums. But the original Godfather is one of the best movies ever made, just as this is one of the best live albums ever released. The best moment - oh hell, there are a lot of best moments - comes after Cash sings "I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die" when a Folsom inmate punctuates the line with a triumphant cheer. It's a vocal cheer that says that guy knew exactly what Johnny Cash was singing about. An excited "been there/done that" affirmation. That recorded moment alone puts this baby at a 5. And I'm pretty sure that same inmate is the one getting a little too excited during certain parts of Cocaine Blues.

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