Thursday, December 15, 2005

50 years ago: Johnny Cash “Folsom Prison Blues” released

Folsom Prison Blues

Johnny Cash

Writer(s): Johnny Cash (see lyrics here)

Released: December 15, 1955 (studio), April 30, 1968 (live)

First Charted: February 11, 1956 (studio), May 25, 1968 (live)

Peak: 4 CW, 5 DF (studio), 32 US, 36 CB, 23 GR, 32 HR, 39 AC, 14 CW, 17 CN, 4 DF (live) (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.25 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 52.0 video, 178.65 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Johnny Cash was born in Arkansas in 1932 and grew up dirt poor. At 12, he started writing songs. After graudating from high school, he briefly worked in an auto factory in Michigan before enlisting in the Air Force. While in Germany on assignment, he learned to play guitar and wrote his first important songs – one of which was “Folsom Prison Blues.” SS

After his release from the Air Force in 1954, Cash took a course on radio announcing while working as an appliance salesman. His brother Roy introduced him to Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant, two mechanics at the garage who played guitar. The three started performing together, eventually auditioning for Sam Phillips at Sun Records and landing a recording contract. SS His first session produced “Hey Porter” and “Cry! Cry! Cry!” The latter became his first top-20 country hit.

With Perkins on flat-top guitar and Grant on upright bass, Cash recorded “Folsom Prison Blues,” SS “a country song with a rockabilly accent,” TC “touches of gospel and an uncanny sense of spiritualty” TC presented with “an unsually poetic eye.” TC It was paired with “So Doggone Lonesome”for a single which reached #4 on the country charts. Phillips reportedly didn’t like “Folsom” and wanted to send it to Tennessee Ernie Ford, but Cash wanted to keep it for himself. SS

It became a concert favorite and was naturally the opening song when he performed a concert at Folsom Prison in 1968. The “live energy and enthusiasm was captured so well…it was as if the song was ‘happy’ to be home.” AC It was released as a single and went to #1 on the country charts.

Cash never served actual prison time, “but the utter conviction he brought to this tale sends chills up the spine.” SS He said there are those who are “firmly convinced…that I led a life of violent crime.” SS His tale of “a cold-blooded, unrepentant convicted killer” SS was partly inspired by a 1951 documentary called Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison. He realized everyone “was locked in some type of prison. It might be loneliness, poverty, booze…but there was something holding just about everyone back.” SS The song’s most vivid line (“I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die”) came from his goal to, as he said, “think up the worst reason a person could have for killing another person.” SS


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First posted 8/23/2023.

Saturday, December 3, 2005

Carrie Underwood Some Hearts hit #1 on country album chart

Some Hearts

Carrie Underwood

Released: November 15, 2005

Peak: 2 US, 127 CW, -- UK, 11 CN, -- AU

Sales (in millions): 8.0 US, -- UK, 9.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: country


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to charts.

  1. Wasted (12/9/06, 37 US, 1 CW, sales: 0.5 m, air: 0.1 m)
  2. Don’t Forget to Remember (2/25/06, 49 US, 2 CW, sales: 0.24 m, air: 0.1 m)
  3. Some Hearts (12/24/05, 12 AC, 22 AA)
  4. Jesus, Take the Wheel (11/5/05, 20 US, 23 AC, 1 CW, sales: 1.04 m, air: 0.2 m)
  5. The Night Before (Life Goes On)
  6. Lessons Learned
  7. Before He Cheats (2/18/06, 8 US, 6 AC, 1 CW, 5 AA, sales: 2.77 m, air: 0.8 m)
  8. Starts with Goodbye
  9. I Just Can’t Live a Lie
  10. We’re Young and Beautiful
  11. That’s Where It Is
  12. Whenever You Remember
  13. I Ain’t in Checotah Anymore
  14. Inside Your Heaven (7/2/05, 1 US, 12 AC, 52 CW, sales: 0.5 m)

Total Running Time: 54:04


4.170 out of 5.00 (average of 28 ratings)


“It straddles the country and pop worlds with ease, and most importantly, it's every bit as likeable as Carrie.” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Country singer Carrie Underwood was born in 1983 in Oklahoma. She got her big break when she won the fourth season of the television talent show American Idol in 2005. During the auditions, judge Simon Cowell “pigeonholed her as a country singer, even if there was nothing specifically country about her sweet, friendly voice.” AMG She had “a very good voice and an unthreatening prettiness that would be equally marketable and likeable in either country or pop.” AMG Voters agreed, anointing her the chapion over “Southern-fried hippie throwback Bo Bice.” AMG

For the final, she and runner-up Bo Bice each performed the song Inside Your Heaven, produced by Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee Desmond Child. After she won, the song was released as a single.’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine called the song “formulaic…sappy and transparent” AMG and said “the arrangement [is] too cold.” AMG The listening public ate the song up and it debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100, making Underwood the first country artist to debut atop the chart.

It set the stage for Underwood to be marked as “a contemporary country singer in the vein of Faith Hill – she’d sing anthemic country pop, ideal for either country or adult contemporary radio, with none of the delightful tackiness of Shania Twain.” AMG On Underwood’s debut album, Some Hearts, she isn’t “as compelling or as distinctive as a personality or vocalist as Faith Hill: Underwood is still developing her own style and, for as good a singer as she is, she doesn’t have much of a persona beyond that of the girl next door made good. But that's enough to make Some Hearts work.” AMG

“While some of the songs drift a little bit toward the generic, especially in regard to the adult contemporary ballads, most of the material is slick, sturdy, and memorable, delivered with conviction by Underwood. She sounds equally convincing on such sentimental fare as Jesus, Take the Wheel as on the soaring pop Some Hearts, and even if she doesn’t exactly sound tough on the strutting Before He Cheats, she does growl with a fair amount of passion.” AMG

The album became the best-selling debut in history for a solo female country singer. WK It was also the best-selling country album of the last decade WK and the best-selling album overall in 2006. WK She went on to win the Grammy for Best New Artist. In addition, “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats” both won Grammys for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 2007 and 2008 respectively.

Resources and Related Links:

Other Related DMDB Pages:

First posted 2/19/2010; last updated 3/13/2024.