Jan Olofsson / Getty Images - oliveranthonymusic / TikTok
Oliver Anthony’s cover of Johnny Cash’s legendary hit, “Folsom Prison Blues,” was posted on TikTok on December 22nd of last year, less than a year before Anthony would become a viral star. Wearing a classic black t-shirt with a photo of Johnny Cash, Anthony belts out the lyrics of the song.
“I hear the train a-comin’, it’s rolling ’round 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,”
Anthony sang on TikTok.
For fans of both Oliver Anthony and Johnny Cash, this cover was more than just a rendition—it was a tribute to one of country music’s biggest legends. Anthony’s rendition tapped into the raw emotion Cash had back in the day and put the song back in the spotlight.
“Folsom Prison Blues” was written by Johnny Cash in 1953, recorded and released as a single in 1955, and later found its place on Cash’s debut studio album, Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar! in 1957. The song, borrowing elements from Gordon Jenkins’ “Crescent City Blues,” earned a spot on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time, ranking at No. 51.
However, it was Cash’s live performance of “Folsom Prison Blues” at Folsom State Prison in 1968 that truly solidified its legendary status.
Captured for the live album At Folsom Prison, this rendition soared to No. 1 on the country music charts and reached No. 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 that same year. The live version also got a Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male, at the 11th Annual Grammy Awards in 1969.
Oliver Anthony’s homage to this iconic song on TikTok not only showed off his vocal skills but also reminded us how great a song “Folsom Prison Blues” is. Anthony’s cover brings fans together, old and new, through a shared appreciation for the classic.
As Oliver Anthony’s rendition continues to gain traction and reach wider audiences, it’s clear that Johnny Cash’s legacy lives on, and this young talent is playing a role in keeping that flame burning. So, if you’re a fan of both Oliver Anthony and Johnny Cash, this cover is an absolute must-listen.
Watch Oliver Anthony sing “Folsom Prison Blues” in the video below.