During the last few weeks of the group work we started to bring our research and ideas into a physical form. Breaking up elements of the script into manageable sections for each individual to tackle. Coming together in the last week to consolidate the whole thing into one clear argument. Below is a working conclusion I wrote based on what the other members of my group put together. Although, in this state, it is unfinished and raw it is intended to help communicate why the our research in the end matters
Our research matters because we are showing that the album listener is provided with an incorrect view of prison reality, never fully recognizing the authenticity of prison life.
The success of Johnny Cash’s Live at Folsom Prison album is not based on its ability to memorialize the actual lived experience of prisoners in Folsom in 1968, but rather the whole production of its memoriam. From what we have shown, by breaking the album into perceived and conceived space, we as listeners are coming away from the album with a more critical gaze. As a listener, even considering the obvious cultural implications of recording an album in a prison: highlighting a space that is normally considered separate, we do not initially leave the album feeling ambivalent or discomforted by what we’ve heard. We instead are actually entertained. A result that is supported by the fact that after its release, the album climbed to the top of the charts, redeemed Cash’s declining image, became memorialized in films, and remembered in a gift shop. Folsom Prison Museum commemorating Cash’s visit on their website, stating: In the museum description it reads ‘you can still discover the reasons for Johnny Cash’s “Blues” at Folsom State Prison. Learn how the prison was fashioned gray granite from the surrounding rock quarries. The museum features a wealth of photographs, old hemp ropes used to hang prisoners, [and] memorabilia from Johnny Cash’s famed concert shows…’ sentence to explain why this matters
The Folsom Prison album offers an inauthentic sonic perception of prison’s reality as Columbia records conceive a homogenized ‘happy go lucky’ group of outlaws. Their claps, woots, and hollers are edited and manipulated to enhance to the music not to present an argument for reform. But from what we’ve determined, to bring the prisoners to the forefront, to recognize the ways their sounds have been manipulated by the space directs a new narrative. The prisoners on the album are not the authentic lived experience.