What does Folsom Prison Blues mean?

Johnny Cash: Folsom Prison Blues Meaning

Album cover for Folsom Prison Blues album cover

Song Released: 1955

Folsom Prison Blues Lyrics

I hear the train a comin'
It's rollin' 'round the bend,
And I ain't seen the sunshine,
Since, I don't know when,
I'm stuck in Folsom Prison,
And time keeps draggin' on,
But that train keeps a-rollin',
On down to San Antone.

When I was...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    May 29th 2006 !⃝

    It ain't just that, about longing to be free but knowing it can't. It's realizing he can never be free again because he's committed a crime; the man realizes his sin and realizes the consequences. Johnny Cash didn't sing just to whine, he sang to warn. You can be a wild rambler and shoot somebody for the hell of it, but then you will experience the real hell of it.

  2. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 15th 2012 !⃝

    This is a good question. Perhaps the oesarn he's in Folsom Prison isn't directly tied to the murder in Reno. That is, maybe he was on parole for the murder in Nevada when he committed another criminal act in California that earned him time in Folsom. Otherwise, he would have probably been sent to Nevada State Prison in Carson City. Or maybe the murder in Reno violated his parole in California, and he was returned to that state to finish out his term. My original thought was that perhaps at the time of the murder Nevada didn't have adequate prison facilities, since California's statehood pre-dates Nevada's, However, Nevada State Prison was built about 30 years before Folsom Prison. I guess Cash needed a two-syllable city for the song. I shot a man in Sacramento just doesn't have the same ring to it. I'm sure Johnny wouldn't mind you fu*kin' with him a little bit. Edit: Relax, Tommy. It's all in good fun, I'm sure. Talking about taking things too seriously

  3. anonymous
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    Jan 1st 2012 !⃝

    This is a song about man's eviction from the Garden of Eden. There was only one rule and that was to not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. P.S. The apple was bitten. And just as the singers only advice from his mother was to be a good boy and to not mess with guns , he goes ahead and shoots a man just for the pure evil of it. He's incarcerated, knows he deserves it and as all of mankind he pines for the freedom and perfection that he knows he can never see.

  4. anonymous
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    Aug 21st 2011 !⃝

    the first four lines he's talking about shooting cocaine... you hear a whistle like a train that gets louder and louder right after you shoot cocaine

  5. anonymous
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    Apr 17th 2011 !⃝

    The song was written for inmates who were being abused and some what tortured. Cash saw a film while he was in Germany and started to have ideas of prison reform.

  6. m320753
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    Apr 7th 2010 !⃝

    johnny was in prison when he was younger so he knows about the small things that become a highlight of your day. i know what he meant. if you were a lifer you had no hope of ever getting out. the train whistle marked another day and you couldn'd wait until that whistle was not heard because you were dead. that was the only hope your death

  7. Harleyihrig
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    Mar 31st 2010 !⃝

    Your looking on the surface. Johnny Cash is referring to the prison that holds us all. Longing for our dreams but incapable of achieving them. and the frustration that comes with that. You are all right but remember there is always a psychological undertone present in all songs. Even if it wasn't intended consciously by the artist, doesn't mean that if you found a deeper meaning that the meaning you found isn't real. Your thought and conviction make it real and more powerful to you.

  8. angbeth
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    Feb 2nd 2008 !⃝

    Does anyone have a clue. He wrote this song while serving in Germany during the Korean War. He saw a movie on base about Folsom Prison and wrote the song.

  9. yourangryxgirlfriend
    click a star to vote
    May 14th 2007 !⃝

    This song is awesome, just the way it sounds it's just so cool!

    It's about how he regrets what he's done and now he's locked up for it and when he hears trains roll by he wonders what it's like to be free on the train doing what ever they want!!

  10. anonymous
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    Nov 20th 2006 !⃝

    Classic song. Timeless style. Passion.

  11. liam4dave
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    Mar 28th 2006 !⃝

    "I hurt myself today...to see if I still feel, I focus on the pain.. The only thing that's real"

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  12. anonymous
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    Feb 24th 2006 !⃝

    It is about his life. He longs to be able to do a lot but he is almost always busy.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  13. SickBoy1955
    click a star to vote
    Oct 18th 2005 !⃝

    About a prisoner hearing a train whistle from his cell and longing to be free, even though he's bound to spend his life there.

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