Johnny Cash Celebrated in Folsom

Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison

In 1953, Cash saw Crane Wilbur’s film Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison while stationed in Germany. The 90-minute long film left an impression on Cash, who empathized with the tale of the imprisoned men, and inspired him to write a song:

Folsom Prison Blues.

“It was a violent movie,” remembers Cash. “And I just wanted to write a song that would tell what I thought it would be like in prison.”
Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison: The Making of a Masterpiece, by Michael Streissguth

But a prison movie wasn’t the only muse that leads to the creation of this iconic tune; Cash had some lyrical inspiration, as well.

Johnny Cash Trail

The Johnny Cash Trail is almost complete! It’s ready for cyclists and walkers and is only missing its outstanding art experience. Soon, that will also be complete making this trail one of the first in the nation to combine public art with an active outdoor experience which will celebrate and honour Johnny Cash and his history with the city of Folsom. The trail includes plans for a 3-acre park featuring an amphitheatre and a 3-dimensional 40-foot landmark sculpture of the Man in Black. Johnny Cash Legacy Park will be located at the corner of East Natoma Street and Folsom Lake Crossing.

The park will incorporate interpretive and educational elements about Johnny Cash, his band the Tennessee Three, and the At Folsom Prison album. It will also include a small amphitheatre, educational spaces, traditional park amenities, and connection to the Johnny Cash Trail and Bike/Pedestrian Over-crossing.

At Folsom Prison, Johnny Cash found his cause

When Johnny Cash stepped onstage at Folsom State Prison on Jan. 13, 1968, for the concerts that would change his life, he was in rough shape.

His record label had threatened to drop him, his addiction to pills was increasingly out of control, his personal life was in tatters and he had recently contemplated suicide.

The success of the shows and the best-selling record they spawned would spark one of the most successful runs of his career. Cash entered the gates of Folsom a fading and troubled country singer — and came out a mainstream superstar who would use his newfound celebrity to advance the cause of prison reform for more than a decade.

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