500 Greatest Songs of All Time

Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

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Johnny Cash, 'Folsom Prison Blues'

163. Johnny Cash, 'Folsom Prison Blues'

Writer: Cash
Producer: Sam Phillips
Released: Jan. '56, Sun
18 weeks; No. 32

Cash first recorded "Folsom Prison Blues," one of his earliest songs, for Sun in 1956. But it was the thrilling, electric '68 version, live at the prison, that defined his outlaw persona. Cash said he wrote the line "I shot a man in Reno/Just to watch him die," while "trying to think of the worst reason . . . for killing another person." He added, "It did come to mind quite easily, though."

Appears on: The Essential Johnny Cash (Columbia)


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