Folsom Prison Blues

Los Tigres del Norte played Folsom Prison on the 50th anniversary of Johnny Cash’s legendary concert. This is a big deal. Sure, it’s at a prison, but it tells the nation that we are also American.

Norteña music isn’t my favorite genre, but it’s been a part of my entire life. Based out of San Jose, CA, Los Tigres’ songs have filled me in on the things that my mom and dad have probably experienced, but find too painful to talk about. They sing these stories with simple, elegant lyrics. The last lines of their verses in particular, come out of left field straight into the heart—all mic drops.

I mean, just check out these lyrics. Mexican men aren’t supposed to cry.

As for Johnny Cash, my godfather used to listen to him because he said it helped him get rid of his accent (it did). Together with Creedence Clearwater Revival, it was how I was introduced to American music. I had no idea what the lyrics meant back then, but today they influence me beyond just musical taste.

“Folsom Prison Blues” for example, to me, is one of the greatest American songs ever written. Cash closes out his verses with the same tragedy that is felt in Los Tigres’ songs.

Watching “La Puerta Negra” performed at that prison made me realize for the first time that it is also an American song. Written by Mexican immigrants, sure, but no less American.

Random fact about me: if I had to be stranded on an island with only three musicians’ music, it’d be Led Zeppelin, Bach, and Los Tigres del Norte.