At San Quentin

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At San Quentin
Live album by Johnny Cash
Released June 4, 1969
Recorded Live at San Quentin State Prison, February 24, 1969
Genre Country, rock, blues, gospel
Length 59:06 (re-release)
Label Columbia
Producer Bob Johnston (original)
Bob Irwin (re-release)
Johnny Cash chronology
The Holy Land
(1969)
At San Quentin
(1969)
More of Old Golden Throat
(1969)

At San Quentin is the 31st overall album by Johnny Cash recorded live at San Quentin State Prison on February 24, 1969 and released on June 4 of that same year. The concert was filmed by Granada Television, produced and directed by Michael Darlow.[1] The album was a follow-up to Cash's previous live album, the critically acclaimed and commercially successful At Folsom Prison.

The album was certified gold on August 12, 1969, platinum and double platinum on November 21, 1986, and triple platinum on March 27, 2003 by the RIAA. The album was nominated for a number of Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and won Best Male Country Vocal Performance for "A Boy Named Sue."

There have been several releases with different songs and set order.

Recording[edit]

On the original LP release, the song order was changed and several songs were cut, presumably for space reasons. Despite the timing limitations of the vinyl LP format, however, both performances of the song "San Quentin" (Cash agreed to perform an encore at the audience's request) are included on the original album. Despite the title of the version released on CD in 2000 – At San Quentin (The Complete 1969 Concert) – the CD does not contain the entire concert uncut, but does feature additional tracks and running order that parallels the actual setlist. In 2010, the album was reissued on vinyl by Sundazed Records with the original Columbia catalog number LP 5362. The reissued Sundazed vinyl is an exact copy of the original record except that the back cover has a barcode and indicates it is a Sundazed issue. Performed but not included were the songs "Jackson" and "Orange Blossom Special", which are included in the video release of the show (both songs had been included in At Folsom Prison). Two songs were somehow slowed down by half a step ("Starkville City Jail" and "Blistered"), possibly due to using another tape machine while the tape on the original machine was changed.

TV special and 'Flipping the Bird' photo[edit]

A crew from Granada Television in the UK filmed the concert for broadcast on television. In the extended version of the concert released by Columbia/Legacy in 2000, Cash is heard expressing frustration at being told what to sing and where to stand prior to his performance of "I Walk the Line". The famous image of an angry-looking Cash giving the middle finger gesture (also known as "Flipping the Bird") to a camera originates from the performance; in his liner notes for the 2000 reissue, Cash explains that he was frustrated at having Granada's film crew blocking his view of the audience. When the crew ignored his request to "clear the stage", he made the gesture.[2]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars [3]
Robert Christgau B− [4]
Rolling Stone favorable [5]

The album was nominated for a number of Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and won Best Male Country Vocal Performance for "A Boy Named Sue."

Track listing[edit]

All songs by Johnny Cash except as indicated.

Side 1
  1. "Wanted Man" (Bob Dylan)
  2. "Wreck of the Old 97"* (arranged by Cash, Bob Johnston, Norman Blake)
  3. "I Walk the Line"
  4. "Darling Companion" (John Sebastian)
  5. "Starkville City Jail"
Side 2
  1. "San Quentin"
  2. "San Quentin" (performed a second time at the audience's request)
  3. "A Boy Named Sue" (Shel Silverstein)
  4. "(There'll Be) Peace in the Valley" (Thomas A. Dorsey)
  5. "Folsom Prison Blues"

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Album - U.S. Billboard charts

Year Chart Position
1969 Country Albums 1
1969 Pop Albums 1

Singles - U.S. Billboard charts

Year Single Chart Position
1969 "A Boy Named Sue" Country Singles 1
1969 "A Boy Named Sue" Pop Singles 2

References[edit]

  1. ^ Independents Struggle. Quartet Books. 2004. ISBN 0704381559. 
  2. ^ Johnny Cash (March 2000), "The Bird," Johnny Cash at San Quentin liner notes, Columbia/Legacy CK 66017, 2000
  3. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Johnny Cash at San Quentin Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Johnny Cash". Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  5. ^ Marsh, Phil (July 26, 1969). "Johnny Cash: At San Quentin". RS 38. Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on October 21, 2007. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Hair by Original Cast
Billboard 200 number-one album
August 23, 1969 – September 19, 1969
Succeeded by
Blind Faith by Blind Faith