27 Songs, 55 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

On January 13, 1968, Johnny Cash made his way to Folsom State Prison in California to perform two concerts for its inmates. The performances and their accompanying live album, At Folsom Prison, would solidify the country-blues singer’s reputation as a champion of the oppressed. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Cash’s landmark performance, the San Jose-based norteño group Los Tigres del Norte played for the inmates at Folsom Prison—the first performers to do so since Cash. “Our intention was to give the inmates cheerful moments,“ lead vocalist Jorge Hernandez tells Apple Music. ”When you’re there, you want to help because most of them show signs of repentance.“ They delivered one of their most poignant concerts, giving new life to their songs and shining a light on the issues of Latinx incarceration. In this track-by-track guide, Hernandez talks through the emotional journey of Los Tigres del Norte at Folsom Prison.

“La Prisión de Folsom (Folsom Prison Blues)”
“Johnny Cash’s daughter-in-law translated this song. We kept it as it was with some small adjustments. Johnny’s family showed interest in celebrating the 50th anniversary of his legendary concert at Folsom with another live performance. They offered us the opportunity and we took it.”

“La Jaula de Oro”
“We wrote this song 25 years ago. Songs can make you feel happy or sad—this one will make you think about your family and loved ones. It’s one of our signature songs and it has a powerful message.”

“De Paisano a Paisano”
“With ‘De Paisano a Paisano,’ we try to lend a hand and let the inmates know that we feel for them in their effort to move forward, since it’s a song that speaks to their dreams of being free and doing something with their lives.”

“La Bala”
“This song felt special when we performed it because we could see the inmates’ faces while we were onstage. We were able to envision a lot of things. My thoughts were that they just wanted to be out of there—free. Listening to the recording brings back those same thoughts: prisoners lifting their heads up to see us.”

“La Baraja Bendita”
“This song is about a prisoner and uses Bible passages to tell the story. A lot of suffering can be felt with this song, and it makes the inmates feel something deep. We recorded this song a long time ago, and the performance was the right scenario for us to play it.”

“Tres Veces Mojado”
“This is another song that the inmates felt deeply. A lot of them cried and felt sadness and happiness at the same time.”

“Un Día a la Vez”
“We performed this song with an inmate named Manuel. The inmates came together with a petition for him to sing with us, since it was one of his dreams. He played the accordion with a lot of heart. Manuel told us that he is a musician and that he committed a crime after one of his gigs. His story went a long way with us and reminded us that we needed to make sure that we had the right security policies to avoid mistakes.”

“En Qué Fallé”
“We did two shows: one for the male inmates and another for the female inmates. The women were allowed to spend time with us before we performed. We got to see their cheers and expressive emotions while they danced. The song is about a daughter who leaves home because of her feelings about her relationship with her parents and other situations. Many of the women were able to identify with it—they aren’t certain about their futures, and the song tapped into a lot of their sorrow.”

“Mi Sangre Prisionera”
“When we recorded this song, we never thought we would get to perform it in front of this kind of audience. It’s based on actual events and was requested by one of the inmates whose own story reflected what’s narrated in the song. The relationship that our lyrics have with their lives is strong—you feel bad for the inmates. When we perform this live in concert, the images from the prison come to mind.”

“Golpes en el Corazón”
“We played this song for both the men and women. Performing for the men was a somber experience. With the women, it was more cheerful.”

“Señor Locutor”
“We performed this song because it was requested by the female inmates. It’s weird that they asked for this one, but since it has an everyday story, we think that they identify with it.”

“La Puerta Negra”
“This song is a big one for Los Tigres del Norte. Most of the audience knew the lyrics. It’s a song that every Tigres del Norte fan knows. We wanted the audience to have something to celebrate, so it was a must for us to play.”

“América”
“The song is about Latin America. The Folsom inmates are from different nationalities, and this song brings up memories for them. They were able to remember their cities, countries, towns, pain, and hope. They started moving to it as soon as the first notes of the song came in.”

“Jamás los Olvidaremos”
“We want to thank everybody who listens to this album, particularly the prisoners at Folsom, who it is dedicated to. We hope they get their freedom.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

On January 13, 1968, Johnny Cash made his way to Folsom State Prison in California to perform two concerts for its inmates. The performances and their accompanying live album, At Folsom Prison, would solidify the country-blues singer’s reputation as a champion of the oppressed. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Cash’s landmark performance, the San Jose-based norteño group Los Tigres del Norte played for the inmates at Folsom Prison—the first performers to do so since Cash. “Our intention was to give the inmates cheerful moments,“ lead vocalist Jorge Hernandez tells Apple Music. ”When you’re there, you want to help because most of them show signs of repentance.“ They delivered one of their most poignant concerts, giving new life to their songs and shining a light on the issues of Latinx incarceration. In this track-by-track guide, Hernandez talks through the emotional journey of Los Tigres del Norte at Folsom Prison.

“La Prisión de Folsom (Folsom Prison Blues)”
“Johnny Cash’s daughter-in-law translated this song. We kept it as it was with some small adjustments. Johnny’s family showed interest in celebrating the 50th anniversary of his legendary concert at Folsom with another live performance. They offered us the opportunity and we took it.”

“La Jaula de Oro”
“We wrote this song 25 years ago. Songs can make you feel happy or sad—this one will make you think about your family and loved ones. It’s one of our signature songs and it has a powerful message.”

“De Paisano a Paisano”
“With ‘De Paisano a Paisano,’ we try to lend a hand and let the inmates know that we feel for them in their effort to move forward, since it’s a song that speaks to their dreams of being free and doing something with their lives.”

“La Bala”
“This song felt special when we performed it because we could see the inmates’ faces while we were onstage. We were able to envision a lot of things. My thoughts were that they just wanted to be out of there—free. Listening to the recording brings back those same thoughts: prisoners lifting their heads up to see us.”

“La Baraja Bendita”
“This song is about a prisoner and uses Bible passages to tell the story. A lot of suffering can be felt with this song, and it makes the inmates feel something deep. We recorded this song a long time ago, and the performance was the right scenario for us to play it.”

“Tres Veces Mojado”
“This is another song that the inmates felt deeply. A lot of them cried and felt sadness and happiness at the same time.”

“Un Día a la Vez”
“We performed this song with an inmate named Manuel. The inmates came together with a petition for him to sing with us, since it was one of his dreams. He played the accordion with a lot of heart. Manuel told us that he is a musician and that he committed a crime after one of his gigs. His story went a long way with us and reminded us that we needed to make sure that we had the right security policies to avoid mistakes.”

“En Qué Fallé”
“We did two shows: one for the male inmates and another for the female inmates. The women were allowed to spend time with us before we performed. We got to see their cheers and expressive emotions while they danced. The song is about a daughter who leaves home because of her feelings about her relationship with her parents and other situations. Many of the women were able to identify with it—they aren’t certain about their futures, and the song tapped into a lot of their sorrow.”

“Mi Sangre Prisionera”
“When we recorded this song, we never thought we would get to perform it in front of this kind of audience. It’s based on actual events and was requested by one of the inmates whose own story reflected what’s narrated in the song. The relationship that our lyrics have with their lives is strong—you feel bad for the inmates. When we perform this live in concert, the images from the prison come to mind.”

“Golpes en el Corazón”
“We played this song for both the men and women. Performing for the men was a somber experience. With the women, it was more cheerful.”

“Señor Locutor”
“We performed this song because it was requested by the female inmates. It’s weird that they asked for this one, but since it has an everyday story, we think that they identify with it.”

“La Puerta Negra”
“This song is a big one for Los Tigres del Norte. Most of the audience knew the lyrics. It’s a song that every Tigres del Norte fan knows. We wanted the audience to have something to celebrate, so it was a must for us to play.”

“América”
“The song is about Latin America. The Folsom inmates are from different nationalities, and this song brings up memories for them. They were able to remember their cities, countries, towns, pain, and hope. They started moving to it as soon as the first notes of the song came in.”

“Jamás los Olvidaremos”
“We want to thank everybody who listens to this album, particularly the prisoners at Folsom, who it is dedicated to. We hope they get their freedom.”

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