Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison: The Making of a Masterpiece

Overview

"On January 13, 1968, Johnny Cash (1932-2003) took the stage at Folsom Prison in Folsom, California. The event and the album, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, propelled him to worldwide superstardom with his definitive renderings of "I Still Miss Someone," "The Long Black Veil," and, of course, "Folsom Prison Blues." He reached new audiences, ignited tremendous growth in the country music industry, and connected with fans in a way no other artist has before or since." Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison is an account of that day, what led to it, and what
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Overview

"On January 13, 1968, Johnny Cash (1932-2003) took the stage at Folsom Prison in Folsom, California. The event and the album, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, propelled him to worldwide superstardom with his definitive renderings of "I Still Miss Someone," "The Long Black Veil," and, of course, "Folsom Prison Blues." He reached new audiences, ignited tremendous growth in the country music industry, and connected with fans in a way no other artist has before or since." Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison is an account of that day, what led to it, and what came after. Michael Streissguth places the album and the concert in the larger context of Cash's artistic development, the era's popular music, and California's prison system, uncovering new angles and exploding a few myths along the way. Informed by the author's unprecedented access to Folsom Prison and Columbia Records' archives, and fully illustrated with over 100 photos - many never before published - by legendary photographer Jim Marshall, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison shows how Johnny Cash forever became a champion of the down-trodden, as well as one of the most enduring forces of American music.
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Editorial Reviews

John Shelton Ivany Top 21
"An engrossing, riveting account of the day.. Scrupulously researched, richly informed."
Publishers Weekly
The most notorious moment on the live 1968 album Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison occurs when the Man in Black growls the killer line from his 1956 hit "Folsom Prison Blues" "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die" and a convict whoops seemingly in solidarity. Actually, that reaction was added post-production, writes Streissguth: "[W]hat the record buyers heard after Cash uttered the bloody line was pure image-making.... In reality, the crowd had remained enthralled by the first glimpse and words of the black circuit rider before them, saving their clamorous gusts exclusively for its conclusion." In this enlightening if slightly disjointed and occasionally hyperventilating look at Cash's most famous album, Streissguth examines not only the concert's genesis and the subsequent revitalization of Cash's career, but also Folsom's difficult history, Columbia Records' reluctance about the project, and the role of the folk movement and late-'60s underground press in moving Cash's public image beyond the hillbilly clich s often plastered on country artists. Most compellingly, it presents a fond but unvarnished portrait of Cash, a moralistic, mordantly witty man fighting his own drug-addiction demons, who viewed his prison concerts (he gave more than 30) as a chance to connect with convicts, not preach at them. The myth-making studio tricks, it seems, were superfluous. 100+ photos not seen by PW. Agent, Jim Fitzgerald. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
These books add to the flurry of material on Johnny Cash, who died a year ago on September 12. Streissguth (editor, Ring of Fire) offers the more interesting entry, using the Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison album as a vehicle to analyze Cash's down-home, plebeian image. He starts with "Folsom Prison Blues," which Cash partly borrowed from pop orchestra leader Gordon Jenkins and first recorded for Sun Records in 1955. After broadly describing the singer's initial rise to fame, Streissguth chronicles Cash's prison concerts, which began in 1957 at Huntsville, AL, and continued for the next ten years. He insightfully shows how the confluence of such forces as the demand for prison reform, the rise of country rock, and the 1960s emphasis on the downtrodden led to the success of Folsom Prison and, in turn, the transformation of Cash from a successful country singer to an American icon. Lavishly illustrated with more than 100 photos many by noted music photographer Jim Marshall and peppered with a few reminiscences by Folsom prisoners, the book will attract a general audience as well as Cash fanatics. Songs, on the other hand, provides little new information. After some brief, oft-told biographical facts, Cusic, a country-music authority, discusses and then prints the lyrics of many Cash songs. He divides the lyrics into such broad categories as God, railroads, prisons, wars, soldiers, patriotic odes, people, music, places, growing up country, and outlaws. Though indicating the songwriter's main preoccupations, the book reveals that the lyrics are rather mundane when they have been wrenched from the emotional tension of Cash's music and voice. It will appeal only to the most die-hard fans. Dave Szatmary, Univ. of Washington Lib., Seattle Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306813382
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 9/13/2004
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 8.76 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author


Michael Streissguth is the author of Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, editor of Ring of Fire, and an associate professor of English at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York.
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