Johnny Cash Sings “Cocaine Blues” At Folsom Prison

Johnny Cash At Folsom PrisonListen to this track by the original outlaw and country-rockabilly badass Man-in-Black Johnny Cash with the live version of his take on T.J “Red” Arnall’s “Cocaine Blues” as taken from his titanic  1968 At Folsom Prison album.  This is a monumental track from an historic record that mixes two warring ingredients that drove Cash up until then, and arguably continued to drive him; violence and spirituality.

Here’s a tale of the former, the story of wife-killer and cokehead Willy Lee, who shoots his other half and high-tails it, too slow as it turns out, to Juarez Mexico, only to be picked up by the Law. The song is barked out by Cash, who is hoarse and enthusiastic as the narrator of this tale of outlawry, delivering it to a roomful of men who may well have been guilty of some of the same things as the ill-fated Willy Lee.

But, what is happening with the performance of this tale of drug abuse and murder is actually the exact opposite of that side of human activity: this is ministry.

Thus, the song represents both sides of Cash’s coin, just by the sheer audacity he had by singing it to the prisoners of Folsom Prison. Performing this tale of murder and desperation becomes an act of empathy, and compassion.

Read more