johnny cash san quentin flipping bird jim marshall-1

Photographer, Jim Marshall, stated the this shot of Johnny Cash warming up for his 1969 concert at San Quentin Prison is, “probably the most ripped off photograph in the history of the world… There was a TV crew behind me and John was on the side of the stage. I said ‘John, let’s do a shot for the warden.’” Well, that was all the motivation Johnny Cash needed to look straight into Marshall’s lens and emphatically flip him the bird.

johnny cash san quentin prison photo 1

The first prison concert Johnny Cash ever played was at San Quentin back on January 1, 1958. Little did Johnny know that In the audience was a young man from Bakersfield, CA who’d go on to become a Country Music star in his own right with the hit Okie from Muskogee — Merle Haggard. People talk a lot about New Year resolutions, but for Merle this would be the real deal — he decided to straighten out his act, and try to carve out a music career for himself like Johnny Cash. And he did, even appearing later on The Johnny Cash Show twice. Just goes to show that wherever you are, and whatever you’re facing, never stop believing that you can turn things around.

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Johnny Cash at San Quentin

1968, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison., 1968.

It was 1968, and Johnny Cash was finally at a place in life where he was able to get a grip on his drug addictions — with the love and support of his wife June.  Johnny had always wanted to perform at Folsom — ever since he first recorded the tune Folsom Prison Blues back in 1957 for Sun Records.  After years of delays caused by management changes at Johnny’s record label, and battles with his own personal demons, the time was finally right.

Backed by the legendary Carl Perkins, the Tennessee Three, not to mention June Carter Cash (a musical dynamo in her own right ), Johnny and company set out to California’s Folsom Prison to put on one helluva show (two shows actually) for the penned-up boys in blue.  The resulting live album At Folsom Prison was a huge success that reignited Johnny Cash’s career, and is an enduring classic that is hands-down required listening for all Johnny Cash, American Roots, and Country Western music fans.

From the moment you hear that “Hello — I’m Johnny Cash” and that guitar — you’re flat hooked, brother.



Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, 1968.


johnny cash folsom prison

Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, 1968.

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Imprisoned Economy


There are a lot of us caught in the grips of the ever-worsening recession global depression– those of us in apparel and retail are definitely feeling it hard.  I’m holding out hope that come April the economy will start to “Spring” back with new optimism.  But now I’m hearing of more imminent lay-offs and cutbacks coming down the pipeline.  It might have you feeling imprisoned in a way you’ve never felt before.  

A good friend shared a story with me yesterday–  his brother was giving a talk and the economy came up (2.8 trillion dollar deficit, btw).  In the audience was a guy formerly of the Securities and Exchange Commission.  When asked where he would put his money, his answer was “Gold and a shotgun.”  Nice.  

But there is something you can do if you find yourself laid-off and seemingly without prospects.  In a market where luxury is currently a dirty word, we do have the luxury of time, energy, experience and relationships.  Us little guys can turn on a dime, and create new models and paradigms faster than the large corporations that are currently focusing on how to stop the bleeding.  New thinking, energy, excitement and products will go a long way towards dragging us out of this, and then hopefully the banks will start to follow in time.  The economic turnaround will only start by us pulling ourselves out of our mental rut first.  

Because my mind works in  strange ways, this all got me thinking about economic life in an actual prison.  It’s important that we keep our circumstances in perspective– it can always be worse…

san quentin

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