Folsom Prison Blues
Johnny Cash Lyrics


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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 just a baby
My Mama told me, "son
Always be a good boy
Don't ever play with guns"
But I shot a man in Reno
Just to watch him die
When I hear that whistle blowin'
I hang my head and cry

I bet there's rich folks eatin'
In a fancy dinin' car
They're probably drinkin' coffee
And smokin' big cigars
Well, I know I had it comin'
I know I can't be free
But those people keep a-movin'
And that's what tortures me

Well, if they freed me from this prison
If that railroad train was mine
I bet I'd move it on a little
Farther down the line
Far from Folsom Prison
That's where I want to stay




And I'd let that lonesome whistle
Blow my blues away

Overall Meaning

The song Folsom Prison Blues is a classic country tune by legendary musician Johnny Cash. The lyrics are about a prisoner who is stuck in Folsom Prison and hears a train coming that is heading to San Antone. He reminisces about his past and how he ended up in prison after shooting a man in Reno. The prisoner acknowledges that he had it coming and can't be free. He imagines that the people on the train are rich and enjoying themselves, while he is stuck feeling tortured at Folsom Prison. The prisoner then dreams of being free and moving away from Folsom Prison if he had his own railroad train.


The song's theme is about the consequences of actions and the regret that follows. The prisoner is aware that he had it coming after shooting a man in Reno and can't be free from the punishment of his crime. The train represents the hope that the prisoner can move forward with his life, but ultimately, the thought of the people on the train enjoying themselves and his inability to join them is what tortures him the most. The song is a commentary on social class and the divide between those who are free and those who are not, represented by those on the train and the prisoner, respectively.


Line by Line Meaning

I hear the train a-comin'
I am aware of the approaching train


It's rollin' 'round the bend
The train is just around the corner


And I ain't seen the sunshine
I haven't had the freedom I used to enjoy


Since, I don't know when
It is difficult to recall the last time I had freedom


I'm stuck in Folsom Prison
I am incarcerated in Folsom Prison


And time keeps draggin' on
Time seems to move very slowly in the prison


But that train keeps a-rollin'
The train continues to move faster than time itself


On down to San Antone
The train is heading towards San Antonio, Texas


When I was just a baby
When I was a young child


My Mama told me, 'son
My mother advised me


Always be a good boy
To always behave properly


Don't ever play with guns'
To never engage with firearms


But I shot a man in Reno
Despite her advice, I still shot a man in Reno


Just to watch him die
Simply for the pleasure of witnessing his death


When I hear that whistle blowin'
Upon hearing the train's whistle


I hang my head and cry
I become overwhelmed with sadness and regret for my actions


I bet there's rich folks eatin'
I would assume that wealthy individuals are currently dining


In a fancy dinin' car
In a luxurious dining carriage


They're probably drinkin' coffee
They are possibly consuming coffee


And smokin' big cigars
And smoking large cigars


Well, I know I had it comin'
I am aware of the inevitability of my punishment


I know I can't be free
I have accepted that I will not be granted freedom


But those people keep a-movin'
Although I am confined, the world outside the prison is still moving forward


And that's what tortures me
The thought of missing out on life and opportunities causes me pain


Well, if they freed me from this prison
If I were granted freedom from incarceration


If that railroad train was mine
And if I owned the train currently passing by


I bet I'd move it on a little
I'd hasten the train's pace


Farther down the line
And travel further away from Folsom Prison


Far from Folsom Prison
Distant from my current confinement


That's where I want to stay
I wish to remain far from the prison's reach


And I'd let that lonesome whistle
I'd allow the train's melancholic whistle sound to resonate with me


Blow my blues away
To ease my sadness and sufferings




Lyrics © O/B/O APRA AMCOS
Written by: Johnny R. Cash

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Most interesting comment from YouTube:

Vagabond245

I hear the train a comin'
It's rolling 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 just a baby my mama told me
"Son, always be a good boy, don't ever play with guns"
But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die
When I hear that whistle blowing, I hang my head and cry
🎶🎸🎶🎸🎶🎸🎶
I bet there's rich folks eating in a fancy dining car
They're probably drinkin' coffee and smoking big cigars
Well I know I had it coming, I know I can't be free
But those people keep a movin'
And that's what tortures me
🎶🎸🎶🎸🎶🎸🎶
Well if they freed me from this prison
If that railroad train was mine
I bet I'd move it on a little farther down the line
Far from Folsom prison, that's where I want to stay
And I'd let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away



All comments from YouTube:

Greg O'Donnell

Still hits hard in 2023,
great music is timeless.

Jason Sphinx

~

Vee

literally this song has been stuck in my head for like 10 years and I'm only 24 😂

Juan Trejo

Yes sir

Сmѣєпɖɴ Тоʍɖш

🤚🏻

Rebecca McClelland

You know it Greg O'Donnell! Love his music

43 More Replies...

sean fitzgerald

"But I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die." One of the coldest lyrics ever written.

counting with jerold

especially when said in the johnny cash voice

c dunne

Pure punk

Debrah Donner

Maybe but people back then didn’t go out and do it.

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