Folsom Prison Blues

Johnny Cash
Lingua: Inglese

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Johnny Cash - Folsom Prison BluesTown Hall Party, Los Angeles, California August 8, 1959

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johnny cash folsomFolsom Prison Blues is an American country music song written by Johnny Cash in the early 1950s and originally recorded with his trio in 1956 for the Sun Records label. The song combines elements from two popular folk genres, the train song and the prison song, both of which Cash would continue to use for the rest of his career.

In the lyrics, the jailed protagonist listens to the whistle of the train outside his cell and recounts his deeds "I shot a man in Reno/just to watch him die," imagines the free people inside the train and dreams of what he would do if he were free. "I know I had it coming/I know I can't be free," sings the imprisoned man. "But those people keep a'moving/and that's what tortures me." The song does not clarify why the protagonist is serving time in California despite having committed murder in Nevada (unless he is serving time in Folsom for another offence, and is recalling the Reno murder as he reflects on a life of crime).

Cash was inspired to write this song after seeing the movie Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison (1951) while serving in West Germany in the United States Air Force. Cash recounted how he came up with the "Reno" line: "I sat with my pen in my hand, trying to think up the worst reason a person could have for killing another person, and that's what came to mind."

The song borrows heavily, both lyrically and melodically, from a Gordon Jenkins composition on his 1953 Seven Dreams concept album (the Jenkins song is often referred to as Crescent City Blues). Jenkins later reportedly filed an infringement lawsuit and received a settlement after Cash's 1968 live recording achieved widespread success.

Cash included the song in his repertoire for decades. The definitive live performance is considered to be the opening song of a concert recorded at Folsom Prison itself on January 13, 1968. This version was eventually released on the At Folsom Prison album the same year. That opening song is more up-tempo than the Sun studio recording, as befits a concert-opening number. However, the recording's most notable feature — the whoops from the audience at the "Reno" line — was actually added in post-production, according to Michael Streissguth. A special on the Walk the Line DVD indicates that the prisoners were careful not to cheer at any of Cash's comments about the prison itself, fearing reprisal from guards.

This song, coupled with Cash's known drug and alcohol abuse problems, helped give rise to the myth that Johnny Cash served prison time.
I hear that train a-commin', it's rollin' around 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 dining car
They're probably drinking coffee and smoking big cigars
But 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 that freed me from this prison
and 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

inviata da Riccardo Venturi - 14/4/2007 - 00:49

Lingua: Italiano

Traduzione italiana di Michele Murino da Maggie's Farm

Johnny Cash stringe la mano a un carcerato nel suo storico concerto alla Folsom Prison nel 1968
Johnny Cash stringe la mano a un carcerato nel suo storico concerto alla Folsom Prison nel 1968

mi sembra che ci sia un errore (che ho corretto) non tanto nella traduzione quanto nel testo originale tradotto da Michele Murino. Nella penultima strofa, "those people keep a-movin'" e non "I keep on keep a-movin'".

Sento quel treno che arriva, arriva da dietro la curva
Non ho più veduto la luce del sole da talmente tanto tempo che nemmeno io mi ricordo da quando
Sono rimasto rinchiuso nella prigione di Folsom dove il tempo scorreva interminabile
e sento quel fischio che soffia giù a San Antone

Quando ero solo un bimbo mia mamma mi disse: figlio
sii sempre un bravo ragazzo, non giocare mai con le pistole
Ma uccisi un uomo a Reno solo per vederlo morire
Quando sento quel treno che avanza piego la testa e piango

Scommetto che ci sono persone ricche nelle sue fantastiche carrozze risplendenti
e probabilmente bevono caffè e fumano grossi sigari
Ma so che io dovevo aspettarmelo, so che non sarò libero
ma loro continuano a muoversi, ed è questo che mi tormenta

Se mi facessero uscir di prigione, se quel treno fosse il mio
Potete scommetterci che lo sposterei ancora un pò lungo i binari
lontano dalla prigione di Folsom
e lascerei che quel triste fischio si porti via la mia tristezza .

inviata da Bartolomeo Pestalozzi - 23/8/2010 - 10:16

Lingua: Italiano

Libera traduzione degli AVAST
in occasione di un concerto della band nel carcere di Melfi (2010)


E sento un treno che
arriva verso me
che non ho il sole in faccia
da chissà quando ormai
mi hanno messo in gabbia
e il tempo se ne va
come quel treno
che passa e se ne va

Mia madre lo diceva
me lo raccomandava
vai pure a giocare
ma lascia stare le pistole
ho sparato a un tale
per veder che effetto fa
e quando sento il treno fischiare
il cuore piange già

Chissà la brava gente
nel vagone ristorante
se prima fa i suoi conti
e poi sorseggia il te
quelli in libertà
e io rinchiuso qua
ma se ci penso
che rabbia che mi fa

Se quella gente là
mi lasciasse in libertà
io prenderei quel treno e via via via...
me ne andrei lontano
da questa merda qua
e la mia canzone
nel vento fischierà

inviata da AVAST - 18/6/2013 - 16:16

Irish transcreation by Gabriel Rosenstock

Tá an traein ag teannadh linne
Ón gcúinne chugainn go mear
Ní fhaca mé ga gréine
Le …ní tamall gearr
Táim sáite in Folsom Prison
Is stop an t-am, ochón,
Is tá an traein ag gluaiseacht léi
Síos go San Antone.

Nuair bhíos-sa i mo bháibín,
Ar Mama liom “A mhac
Bí i do bhuachaill múinte
Gan gunna i do ghlac.”
Ach do lámhachas fear in Reno
Chun breathnú ar a bhás
Nuair a chloisimse an fheadaíl
Tosnaím ag gol go fras.

Bí cinnte go bhfuil boic ag ithe
Ina gcarr galánta dóibh
Nó ag slogadh siar an chaife
Ag caitheamh na dtodóg
Ach nach raibh sé tuillte agam!
Ní bheidh mé saor go deo
Is na daoine ag síorghluaiseacht
Iad 'na ndealg sa bheo.

Bhuel, dá saorfaí mé ón bpríosún seo
Dá mba liom an t-iarnród
Bí cinnte go mbogfainn as an áit seo
Ó, gan aon agó
I bhfad ó Folsom Prison
Is ann a gheobhainnse scíth
Agus ligfinnse don fheadaíl
An brón a ghlanadh díom.

inviata da Gabriel Rosenstock - 27/7/2018 - 15:54

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