Songnotes

the hand-crafted music library of @davidpots

 

follow Songnotes:

Folsom Prison Blues

Johnny Cash

from the album With His Hot and Blue Guitar released in 1957

jump to: lyrics / notes & tabs / chord progressions / song info

Lyrics

Intro

B7 . . . E . . . (see below for intro riff)

Verse

E I hear the train a coming, it's rolling around the bend And I ain't seen the sunshine, since I don't know when A E I'm stuck in Folsom Prison, and time keeps dragging on B7 E But that train keeps a-rolling, 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 (instrumental verse with solo) I bet there's rich folks eating 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-moving, and that's what tortures me (instrumental verse with solo) 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 (end on E, let ring)

Notes & Tabs

Chords Used

Here are the guitar chords used during this song. If you haven't learned the B7 shown below, it is a good introductory version of the B chord that will get you a lot of mileage. Don't let it scare you away if you're just learning it for the first time -- it will open the doors to other songs in the key of E.

e-|---0----0----2----
B-|---0----2----0----
G-|---1----2----2----
D-|---2----2----1----
A-|---2----0----2----
E-|---0--------------
      E    A    B7 

Intro Riff

Here is how you can play the riff heard at the beginning of the song, as well as in in between some of the verses and at the end (as you switch from the B7 to the E). I've included two ways to play it -- one in open position, and another an octave up the fretboard (which frees you up for a bit of soloing, if you please).

e-|---------------------------0-0-----0-0----0-0-----0-0---
B-|---------------------------0-0-----0-0----0-0-----0-0---
G-|---------------------------1-1-----1-1----1-1-----1-1---
D-|---------1---1-------------2-2-----2-2----2-2-----2-2--- ...etc
A-|---2-2-2--------2----------2-2---2--------2-2---2-------
E-|-------------------2b3---0--------------0---------------
      B7                    E 

Strumming Pattern

To achieve the alternating bass note (*boom-chicka-boom-chika-boom-chicka*) that Johnny Cash is known for, use the following tab as a reference. This said, I strongly recommend viewing the video linked below to watch a demonstration of this. If you can, use your thumb to mute the lower E string on the alternating beats when it is not played -- this will help accentuate the bass line. Also, note that the B7 chord position ties directly into the riff you use in the intro.

e-|-------0-0------0-0----0-0-----0-0----
B-|-------0-0------0-0----0-0-----0-0----
G-|-------1-1------1-1----1-1-----1-1----
D-|-------2-2------2-2----2-2-----2-2----  ...etc
A-|-------2-2----2--------2-2---2--------
E-|-----0--------x------0-------x--------
        E 

e-|-------0-0-----0-0-----0-0-----0-0----
B-|-------2-2-----2-2-----2-2-----2-2----
G-|-------2-2-----2-2-----2-2-----2-2----
D-|-------2-2-----2-2-----2-2-----2-2----  ...etc
A-|-----0---------------0----------------
E-|-----x-------0-------x-------0--------
        A 

e-|-------2-2-----0-0-----2-2-----2-2----
B-|-------0-0-----0-0-----0-0-----0-0----
G-|-------2-2-----2-2-----1-1-----1-1----
D-|-------1-1-----1-1-----2-2-----2-2----  ...etc
A-|-----2---------------2----------------
E-|-----x-------2-------x-------2--------
        B7 

Recommended Video Lesson

The excellent Justin Sandercoe has created an excellent video lesson of this song, which you can watch freely on YouTube. I especially recommend this to get an idea of the strumming pattern used in this song -- Justin demonstrates it quite well.



Electric Guitar Lesson

The talented Dario Cortese has put together a demo video showing the electric guitar portion of the song, if you'd like to learn that. Watch it here:



Capo 1st Fret (optional)

If you want to play along with the Johnny Cash recorded versions of this song, you'll need to add a capo to the 1st fret (and use the chords shown above). Otherwise, this is by no means required! You can play without a capo using the notation above and it will sound just fine -- you'll simply in a different key (which is fine).

Chord Progressions

Intro

| B7 . . . | E . . . | (see above for intro riff)

Verse

"I hear that train a-coming..."
| E  . . . | . . . . | . . . . | . . . . |
| E  . . . | . . . . | . . . . | . . . . |
| A  . . . | . . . . | . . . . | . . . . |
| E  . . . | . . . . | . . . . | . . . . |
| B7 . . . | . . . . | . . . . | . . . . |
| E  . . . | . . . . | . . . . | . . . . |

Song Info

Song: Folsom Prison Blues
Artist: Johnny Cash
Album: With His Hot and Blue Guitar
Year: 1957
Label: Sun

Share

Transcription, content, and notes for this song were written by David Potsiadlo. Like what you see? Tell your friends:

Recently Added

Here are the songs I have recently learned and added to the site. I typically will add one new song each week.

Browse All Songs

Here's a list of the 172 songs I've added to the site since December 2012. Each song was added by me personally.

Songs are grouped by the year they were released.

2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
2001
2000
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
1990
1989
1988
1985
1984
1983
1982
1981
1980
1977
1975
1974
1972
1971
1970
1969
1968
1967
1965
1961
1960
1958
1957

About

My name is David Potsiadlo, and I created Songnotes to share my collection of guitar tabs, chords, and lyrics for my favorite songs.

Since I started playing guitar over 10 years ago, I've often been frustrated by the preponderance of mediocre and incomplete song tabs littered across the internet. To combat this, I started keeping my own collection of notes for each song I learn -- always taking the extra time to make sure accuracy and completeness are never compromised. Years later, my collection grew to the point where I knew I had to share it online with fellow aspiring musicians.

In December 2012, I began designing & developing a website that became Songnotes. Here, I share my personal collection of hand-crafted music notation with all those online. I hope you enjoy.

You can also view my personal website or follow me on Twitter / Dribbble / GitHub / LinkedIn.