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Folsom Prison Blues

Folsom Prison Blues


by Johnny Cash


In his book about Johnny Cash's concert at Folsom Prison, author Michael Streissguth describes the infamous jail as a place from which nightmares are born:

"Folsom growls at visitors, however long they plan to stay. Inside, sharply textured granite walls are as thick as the length of a man, and they rise to high ceilings that stretch out over the inmates like a steel sky. Windows line the top walls, far out of reach of the prisoners, permitting only a muted light which drifts down to the cell block floors, like a fog. The dirty glow inside reveals a maze, a series of box-like rooms and rifle-barrel corridors through which citizens circulate from cell to job to mess hall to exercise yard to cell. Halfway up the walls, perched on gunwalks, unsmiling prison guards peer down on the daily commute, ready to cut down with their polished rifles anyone who would disrupt the gray routine."

Folsom prison is the kind of place that will drive a man crazy, and many of the inmates arguably are already psychotic, so it's hard to imagine the kind of stuff that goes on in these guys' minds, many of whom are trapped for life in this cement labyrinth.

Among the more famous inmates of the prison: Erik Menendez (serving life for murdering his parents), Rick James (of "Superfreak" fame, did two years for assaulting two women), Marion "Suge" Knight of Death Row Records (assault, extortion), and Charles Manson (one of the most notorious serial killers in the world, convinced his cult-like followers to kill Sharon Tate and 9 others in 1969).

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