On this day, Jan. 13, in 1968, Johnny Cash performed live at Folsom Prison in California. Thirteen years earlier, Cash recorded "Folsom Prison Blues," a song in which its protagonist recounts his crimes, "I shot a man in Reno/just to watch him die," and imagines what he would do if he became free.

Cash had been interested in recording a live album at the prison ever since.

By 1968, Cash was battling drug and alcohol addictions and his popularity had waned. But he convinced new Columbia Records executives to record the prison performance.

Cash performed two shows, backed by his future wife June Carter. Prisoners refrained from cheering at the "Reno" line for fear of reprisal, and the "whoops" reportedly were added in post-production.

The album revitalized Cash's career.

Scott McCabe