Playlist

The Best Country Songs About Prisons

Whether they're singing in them or singing about them, country music’s affinity for prisons is perhaps one of its most underrated quirks.

Holler Country Music

Whether they're singing in them or singing about them, country music’s affinity for prisons is perhaps one of its most underrated quirks.

December 20, 2023 8:30 pm GMT

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In a genre where you’re as likely to hear a good, honest proclamation of loyalty to the law as you are an outlaw running from it, country music’s affinity for prisons is perhaps one of its most underrated quirks.

Standing as both the spiritual setting and sometimes, remarkably, even the physical setting for the recording of some of country’s most famous albums, the legacy of artists like Johnny Cash is inextricably linked with the big house.

Johnny one night in jail, and that was when he was arrested for picking flowers, but he did manage to inspire Merle Haggard to begin a career in country music, when Haggard caught one of the Man in Black’s shows in San Quentin Prison where Haggard was an inmate.

Many a country song would like to convince listeners that rock bottom happens at 3am on a honky tonk bar stool; jailhouse songs are their watchful cousin that know it’s only one more shot of whisky between the two.

From Merle to Miranda, here’s our pick of The Best Country Songs About Prisons.

See the full tracklist below:

  1. 1.

    I Got Stripes

    Johnny Cash

  2. 2.

    Mama Tried

    Merle Haggard

  3. 3.

    Folsom Prison Blues

    Jerry Reed

  4. 4.

    Stripes

    Brandy Clark

  5. 5.

    On The Inside

    Miranda Lambert and Maren Morris

  6. 6.

    Christmas in Prison

    John Prine

  7. 7.

    Behind Bars (with Brantley Gilbert)

    Jelly Roll

  8. 8.

    A Week in a County Jail

    Tom T. Hall

  9. 9.

    The Chair

    Marty Robbins

  10. 10.

    Jailhouse Tears

    Lucinda Williams

  11. 11.

    Hello Stranger

    Emmylou Harris

  12. 12.

    Death Row

    Chris Stapleton

  13. 13.

    Starkville City Jail

    Johnny Cash

  14. 14.

    I Made The Prison Band

    Merle Haggard & The Strangers

  15. 15.

    I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water

    Stonewall Jackson

  16. 16.

    There Ain't No Good Chain Gang

    Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings

  17. 17.

    Tupelo County Jail

    Webb Pierce

  18. 18.

    I Found Jesus On The Jailhouse Floor

    George Strait

  19. 19.

    Commissary

    Pistol Annies

  20. 20.

    Guilty As Can Be

    Cody Johnson

  21. 21.

    Bobby

    Reba McEntire

  22. 22.

    Will You Visit Me On Sundays?

    Merle Haggard and The Strangers

  23. 23.

    99 Years For One Dark Day

    Robert Earl Keen

  24. 24.

    Boston Jail

    Porter Wagoner

  25. 25.

    Cash On The Barrel Head

    The Louvin Brothers

  26. 26.

    Still Doin' Time

    George Jones

  27. 27.

    Chains

    Patty Loveless

  28. 28.

    Women's Prison

    Nicki Bluhm

  29. 29.

    'Ol Red

    Blake Shelton

  30. 30.

    Ain't No Honky Tonk in Jail

    George Goss

  31. 31.

    Sing Me Back Home

    The Flying Burrito Brothers

  32. 32.

    In The Jailhouse Now

    Jimmie Rodgers

  33. 33.

    11 Months and 29 Days

    Johnny Paycheck

  34. 34.

    Wichita Jail

    The Charlie Daniels Band

  35. 35.

    Death Row

    Thomas Rhett, Tyler Hubbard and Russell Dickerson

  36. 36.

    Prisoners

    John Denver

  37. 37.

    wait in the truck (feat. Lainey Wilson)

    HARDY

  38. 38.

    I'm Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail

    The Everly Brothers

  39. 39.

    Prison Trilogy (Billy Rose)

    Joan Baez

  40. 40.

    High Cost Of Living

    Jamey Johnson

  41. 41.

    They're Hanging Me Tonight

    Marty Robbins

  42. 42.

    Blackjack County Chain

    Willie Nelson

  43. 43.

    (I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle

    Hank Williams

  44. 44.

    Stone Walls

    Jim Croce

  45. 45.

    The Wall

    Freddie Hart

  46. 46.

    Roane County Prison

    Bill Monroe

  47. 47.

    Shackles and Chains

    Mac Wiseman and The Osborne Brothers

  48. 48.

    Birmingham Jail

    Slim Whitman

  49. 49.

    Ellis Unit One

    Steve Earle

  50. 50.

    The Prisoner's Song

    Hank Snow

  51. 51.

    Same Old Day

    Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs

  52. 52.

    Branded

    Marty Stuart

  53. 53.

    Stone Hotel

    Jaime Wyatt

  54. 54.

    Weekender

    Margo Price

  55. 55.

    Billy Austin

    Steve Earle and The Dukes

  56. 56.

    Midnight Special

    Creedence Clearwater Revival

  57. 57.

    Penitentiary Blues

    David Allan Coe

  58. 58.

    Banks of the Ohio

    Dolly Parton

  59. 59.

    The Sweetest Gift

    The Judds

  60. 60.

    Riot In Cell Block Number Nine

    Wanda Jackson

  61. 61.

    Hutchinson Jail

    Nancy Sinatra

  62. 62.

    Life in Prison

    Merle Haggard

  63. 63.

    The Convict and the Rose

    Porter Wagoner

  64. 64.

    Willie Jones

    Bobby Bare

  65. 65.

    Concrete and Barbed Wire

    Lucinda Williams

  66. 66.

    Prison To Heaven

    The Avett Brothers

  67. 67.

    Whiskey Bent and Jail Bound

    Casper McWade

  68. 68.

    Neon Jail

    Ags Connolly

  69. 69.

    Chain Gang

    Johnny Cash

  70. 70.

    25 in Jail

    Jacob Bryant

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