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
Last Edited April 2, 2024 3:53 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 Went To College / I Went To Jail

    ERNEST and Jelly Roll

  2. 2.

    I Got Stripes

    Johnny Cash

  3. 3.

    Mama Tried

    Merle Haggard

  4. 4.

    Folsom Prison Blues

    Jerry Reed

  5. 5.


    Brandy Clark

  6. 6.

    On The Inside

    Miranda Lambert and Maren Morris

  7. 7.

    Christmas in Prison

    John Prine

  8. 8.

    Behind Bars (with Brantley Gilbert)

    Jelly Roll

  9. 9.

    A Week in a County Jail

    Tom T. Hall

  10. 10.

    The Chair

    Marty Robbins

  11. 11.

    Jailhouse Tears

    Lucinda Williams

  12. 12.

    Hello Stranger

    Emmylou Harris

  13. 13.

    Death Row

    Chris Stapleton

  14. 14.

    Starkville City Jail

    Johnny Cash

  15. 15.

    I Made The Prison Band

    Merle Haggard & The Strangers

  16. 16.

    I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water

    Stonewall Jackson

  17. 17.

    There Ain't No Good Chain Gang

    Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings

  18. 18.

    Tupelo County Jail

    Webb Pierce

  19. 19.

    I Found Jesus On The Jailhouse Floor

    George Strait

  20. 20.


    Pistol Annies

  21. 21.

    Guilty As Can Be

    Cody Johnson

  22. 22.


    Reba McEntire

  23. 23.

    Will You Visit Me On Sundays?

    Merle Haggard and The Strangers

  24. 24.

    99 Years For One Dark Day

    Robert Earl Keen

  25. 25.

    Boston Jail

    Porter Wagoner

  26. 26.

    Cash On The Barrel Head

    The Louvin Brothers

  27. 27.

    Still Doin' Time

    George Jones

  28. 28.


    Patty Loveless

  29. 29.

    Women's Prison

    Nicki Bluhm

  30. 30.

    'Ol Red

    Blake Shelton

  31. 31.

    Ain't No Honky Tonk in Jail

    George Goss

  32. 32.

    Sing Me Back Home

    The Flying Burrito Brothers

  33. 33.

    In The Jailhouse Now

    Jimmie Rodgers

  34. 34.

    11 Months and 29 Days

    Johnny Paycheck

  35. 35.

    Wichita Jail

    The Charlie Daniels Band

  36. 36.

    Death Row

    Thomas Rhett, Tyler Hubbard and Russell Dickerson

  37. 37.


    John Denver

  38. 38.

    wait in the truck (feat. Lainey Wilson)


  39. 39.

    I'm Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail

    The Everly Brothers

  40. 40.

    Prison Trilogy (Billy Rose)

    Joan Baez

  41. 41.

    High Cost Of Living

    Jamey Johnson

  42. 42.

    They're Hanging Me Tonight

    Marty Robbins

  43. 43.

    Blackjack County Chain

    Willie Nelson

  44. 44.

    (I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle

    Hank Williams

  45. 45.

    Stone Walls

    Jim Croce

  46. 46.

    The Wall

    Freddie Hart

  47. 47.

    Roane County Prison

    Bill Monroe

  48. 48.

    Shackles and Chains

    Mac Wiseman and The Osborne Brothers

  49. 49.

    Birmingham Jail

    Slim Whitman

  50. 50.

    Ellis Unit One

    Steve Earle

  51. 51.

    The Prisoner's Song

    Hank Snow

  52. 52.

    Same Old Day

    Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs

  53. 53.


    Marty Stuart

  54. 54.

    Stone Hotel

    Jaime Wyatt

  55. 55.


    Margo Price

  56. 56.

    Billy Austin

    Steve Earle and The Dukes

  57. 57.

    Midnight Special

    Creedence Clearwater Revival

  58. 58.

    Penitentiary Blues

    David Allan Coe

  59. 59.

    Banks of the Ohio

    Dolly Parton

  60. 60.

    The Sweetest Gift

    The Judds

  61. 61.

    Riot In Cell Block Number Nine

    Wanda Jackson

  62. 62.

    Hutchinson Jail

    Nancy Sinatra

  63. 63.

    Life in Prison

    Merle Haggard

  64. 64.

    The Convict and the Rose

    Porter Wagoner

  65. 65.

    Willie Jones

    Bobby Bare

  66. 66.

    Concrete and Barbed Wire

    Lucinda Williams

  67. 67.

    Prison To Heaven

    The Avett Brothers

  68. 68.

    Whiskey Bent and Jail Bound

    Casper McWade

  69. 69.

    Neon Jail

    Ags Connolly

  70. 70.

    Chain Gang

    Johnny Cash

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For more of Holler's playlists, see below:

Written by Holly Smith
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