It can be recalled that Johnny Cash had a different sense of welcoming New Year and it was proven when he chose the San Quentin State Prison of California to kick off the New Year on January 1, 1959.
Johnny Cash might be a lot of things complicated but he was never too shy to relate himself as one of the underdogs. He was their man. He was their image. He was their voice. He was them. Cash never shy away to the fact that he relates more to people like prisoners than those who are enjoying an unlimited supply of freedom.
It is interesting to note that Cash had his share of breaking or bending the law although he was never sentenced to prison time. The Man in Black stated that his way of giving back to prisoners through a concert is out of compassion for those who made bad choices just like how he sometimes had.
His first visit to San Quentin State Prison also awakens another country outlaw spirit in the name of Merle Haggard. During that historic moment, Merle Haggard was serving time for burglary in San Quentin State Prison and he was, in fact, one of the audiences. When Haggard looks back on that moment, he admits that that concert brought him back to his feet and he has nothing but admiration for the country outlaw. Haggard told in an interview:
“He had the right attitude. He chewed gum, looked arrogant and flipped the bird to the guards — he did everything the prisoners wanted to do. He was a mean mother from the South who was there because he loved us. When he walked away, everyone in that place had become a Johnny Cash fan.”
After the stumping moment, Johnny Cash continued his legacy of performing inside state prisons for free. This conceived the ideas for two albums like ‘Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison’ and ‘Johnny Cash at San Quentin.’ It even came to a point where his albums that are prison-inspired sells more than his studio recorded ones.
Proving sincere to his causes, Johnny Cash soon championed the rights of those behind bars and campaigned them in every opportunity he gets. The most powerful medium was creating songs reflecting how it is to live as a prisoner stripped of your human privileges.
On the other hand, let’s both watch this badass and relive his moments: