“I hear the train a coming”*
On this day in 1968 Johnny Cash, backed by June Carter, Carl Perkins and the Tennessee Three, gave two performances at the Folsom State Prison
which were recorded and subsequently released as a live album–At Folsom Prison.
The album was a hit, reaching number one on the country charts and the top 15 of the national album chart. The lead single from the album, a live version of “Folsom Prison Blues,” was a top 40 hit, Cash’s first since 1964’s “Understand Your Man.” Indeed, the success of At Folsom Prison revitalized Cash’s career. According to Cash, “that’s where things really got started for me again.”
Hats off to the Man in Black! You were one of a kind. Awesome.
It is also the birthday of A.B. Guthrie, Jr. (1901–1991), the author of six historical novels that gave an unromanticized picture of the settling of the American West from 1830 to World War II. The most famous, “The Big Sky,” launched his career in 1947, and “The Way West,” published in 1949, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1950. He also wrote the screenplay for Shane (1953), my favorite movie of all time.
I recommend A.B. Guthrie, who is a really good writer and whose character, Dick Summers, is (in my opinion) one of the great ones of literature.
He tried to put himself in Brownie’s place, tried to put there the him that used to be, not the him of now, worn and hard and doubtful by the knocks of living. You couldn’t tell a boy how few were the things that mattered and how little was their mattering. You couldn’t say that the rest washed off in the wash of years so that, looking back, a man wanted to laugh except he couldn’t quite laugh yet. The dreams dreamed and the hopes hoped and the hurts felt and the jolts suffered, they all got covered by the years. They buried themselves in memory. Dug out of it, they seemed queer, as a dug-up bone with the flesh rotted off of it might seem queer to the dog that had buried it.
–-The Way West
So a toast to Johnny Cash and to A.B. Guthrie–two favorites of mine.