Whether you are doing time in the penitentiary, passing time in the county jail, a prisoner of love, or a prisoner of your thoughts, we are all under the control of something or someone besides ourselves. Feeling trapped is a vicious cycle that makes you feel even more trapped than before. That’s why many songs about prison have been written over the years.
When you feel trapped, and under someone else’s control, it can create a downward spiral that’s nearly impossible to escape. Fortunately, plenty of great artists have left us some amazing songs that can help us pass the time. Below, we’ll share many of our favorites from across all music genres.
Table of Contents
1. The Tower by Ice-T
|Genre||Rap, Hip Hop|
|Album||O.G. Original Gangster|
Tracy Lauren Marrow has been a busy man. Better known by his stage name Ice-T, Marrow has released eight albums, seven compilations, and one soundtrack as a solo artist. He has also released seven albums with Body Count and also has 179 acting credits to his name. Everything got started when he released his fourth album, “O.G. Original Gangster.” One of the record’s standout tracks is “The Tower,” which samples the theme from “Halloween” and is a retelling of what a day in the life of an inmate would be like.
2. Do Your Time by Ludacris (Featuring Beanie Sigel, Pimp C, and C-Murder)
|Genre||Rap, Hip Hop|
Christopher Brian Bridges has established himself as an actor and a hip-hop artist. Ludacris was born in Illinois but didn’t start rapping until he moved to Atlanta when he was nine. He has had five songs reach number one and has also had 18 top-ten hits on Billboard. Although “Do Your Time” was not one of those, it is still a fan favorite, appearing on his platinum-selling album “Release Therapy.” The track is a shout-out to all of Ludacris’s homies that are locked up, and it’s also about his personal experiences in jail.
3. 16 On Death Row by Tupac Shakur
|Genre||Rap, Hip Hop|
|Album||R U Still Down? (Remember Me)|
Also known as 2Pac and Makaveli, Tupac Shakur tops plenty of lists as the greatest rapper of all time. Born to parents who were political activists and Black Panther Party members, he has garnered praise from fans and critics and is the most well-respected rapper of his generation. Released over one year after his death, the double album “R U Still Down? (Remember Me)” That album includes “16 On Death Row,” which is a song about a young man who turns to a life of crime because he comes from a broken family.
4. Rusty Cage by Soundgarden
Soundgarden officially announced their arrival to the entire United States in 1991 with the release of their third studio album, “Badmotorfinger.” While they may not have had their first big hit until their follow-up to “Badmotorfinger,” this was their first album to reach the Billboard Top 40. They announced their arrival with a bang by releasing the track” Rusty Cage.” One of the best theories I’ve heard about this song is that Chris Cornell wrote it about escaping the prison his abusive parents had turned his home into when he was a child.
5. Ol’ Red by Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton broke into country music in 2001, when his first single hit number one on Billboard and stayed there for five weeks, which started a streak of Shelton charting 11 consecutive number-one singles. “Ol’ Red” may not have been one of his number-one singles, but it was one of the standout tracks on his self-titled debut record and is about a man who caught his wife cheating and killed her. He received 99 years but broke out and managed to get away by fooling a bloodhound named Ol Red.
6. Belly Of The Beast by Lifers Group
|Genre||Rap, Hip Hop|
Formed in 1991 and consisting of people incarcerated at East Jersey State Prison, Lifers Group gained notoriety when they were featured in the documentary “Scared Straight!” They got their first record deal when fellow prisoner Maxwell Melvins was appointed the head of a subsidiary of Disney Music Group called Hollywood Basic. Strangely, a concert film that they made called “Lifers Group World Tour: Rahway Prison, That’s It” wound up being nominated for a Grammy Award in 1992. Their track “Belly of the Beast ” warrants against the many dangers of going to prison.
7. You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us In Prison by My Chemical Romance
|Genre||Pop Punk, Emo|
|Album||Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge|
There’s an old saying about what happens to pretty boys when they go to prison. Gerard Way took this preconceived notion and wrote a song about it, although the song has nothing to do with prison at all. The song from 2004’s “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge” was inspired by a kiss shared between Gerard Way and Bert McCracken of The Used. According to the band’s biography, the kiss took place during a game of Truth or Dare. It’s also about how life on tour can be like living in prison.
8. Life In Prison by Merle Haggard
|Album||I’m a Lonesome Fugitive|
If there is anybody on this list that knows anything about serving time, that person is Merle Haggard. His father passed away when he was young, resulting in Merle ending up in jail a few times in his youth. By the time he was 18, he was serving a 15-year sentence in San Quentin prison for burglary charges. Upon release, Haggard pursued country music, releasing “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive” in 1967. The track “Life In Prison” is about a man who prays for the death penalty but instead gets a life sentence.
9. Institutionalized by Suicidal Tendencies
Formed in Venice Beach, California, in 1980, Suicidal Tendencies combines elements of metal and punk rock into a crossover style that has to find its sound for over four decades. Although they have never charted very high on Billboard, they have gained a cult following that few other bands can boast of having. They have also been nominated for two Grammy Awards, including “Institutionalized.” This track is told from the perspective of a young person who lives with his parents and is constantly being harassed by them until he completely loses it.
10. Prisoner by The Weeknd (Featuring Lana Del Rey)
|Album||Beauty Behind the Madness|
Abel Makkonen Tesfaye has gone from an unknown Canadian singer who was anonymously releasing music on YouTube to the pop and R&B superstar known as The Weeknd. In the past thirteen years, he has charted 91 songs, with 14 cracking the top ten and six climbing to the top spot on the Billboard 200 charts. He released “Beauty Behind the Madness” in 2015, which featured a duet with Lana Del Rey called “Prisoner.” it’s about how becoming addicted to celebrity life can make you feel like a prisoner.
11. Prison Song by System Of a Down
This Armenian-American politically active alternative metal band has been around since 1994, forming in Glendale, California. Their current lineup solidified in 1997 when drummer John Dolmayan joined. Although the band went on hiatus after winning the Grammy in 2006 for Best Hard Rock Performance, they released two singles in 2020 to raise awareness about the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. In 2001, they released their second effort, “Toxicity.” The opening track, “Prison Song,” is a hard-hitting statement about the American government senselessly imprisoning people for minor drug infractions to fund global wars.
12. 512 by Lamb Of God
|Album||VII: Sturm Und Drang|
In 2012, lead vocalist Randy Blythe was imprisoned on manslaughter charges due to an unfortunate incident that led to a fan’s death while Lamb Of God was on tour in the Czech Republic. After being detained for five weeks, he was allowed to return home, and Lamb Of God wrote “VII: Sturm Und Drang.” The third track, “512,” is about Randy’s time in prison and how he was treated. The title of the song is his cell number. Randy was found not guilty when he returned to the Czech Republic to stand trial.
13. Band on the Run by Paul McCartney and Wings
|Genre||Rock, Classic Rock|
|Album||Band on the Run|
When The Beatles broke up in 1970, Paul McCartney found another creative outlet in 1971, when he and his wife Linda formed the band Wings. Just like he did with The Beatles, Paul struck gold with Wings, winning two Grammy Awards for both his third album with Wings, “Band on the Run,” and its title track. The title came from a real-life account of the band Macca running from the police after a hotel fight, while the lyrics are a fictional tale of a band of thieves running to escape imprisonment.
14. Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash
|Album||Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar!|
Johnny Cash is one of the most respected, influential, and “one of the most important artists in music history.” He has released 67 studio albums, 16 live albums, 105 compilations, and 4 soundtracks in both country and gospel. However, before he became known as The Man Indian Black, he released his debut album, “Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar!” That album featured a live version of “Folsom Prison Blues,” which became one of his signature songs, and puts himself in the unenviable shoes of a man doing time in prison.
15. San Quentin by Johnny Cash
|Album||Johnny Cash At San Quentin|
San Quentin State Prison, affectionately called “The Arena” by its inmates, was built in 1852, making it the oldest prison in the state of California. This was the spot that Johnny Cash chose to record his 31st overall album, and the second live album of his career, the Country Music Academy Award-winning” Johnny Cash At San Quentin” in 1969. At this live show, Cash played some of his biggest hits, as well as debuted the new song “San Quentin,” which takes a look at the prison through the eyes of the prisoners.
16. Over To You by Black Sabbath
|Album||Never Say Die!|
The Godfathers of Heavy Metal have released albums under various lineups since 1969, with lead guitarist Tony Iommi being the only consistent member throughout every incarnation of the band. In 1978, Black Sabbath released their final album with Osbourne, who was fired for excessive drug and alcohol abuse. To add insult to injury, his last two albums with the band were poorly received by fans and critics, the last of which was 1978’s “Never Say Die!” The album’s seventh track, “Over To You” is about someone who feels imprisoned by the educational system.
17. Way Too Pretty for Prison by Miranda Lambert (Featuring Maren Morris)
Have you ever had someone do something to you that upset you so much that you considered retaliating, even if the consequences meant that you would have to serve time in prison? Most people feel that way about a cheating partner. They feel so betrayed by this person’s actions that revenge seems to be the only thing on their mind, and sometimes their idea of revenge is scary, not to mention illegal. That’s the message I get from the song “Way Too Pretty for Prison” from Miranda Lambert’s Grammy award-winning album “Wildcard.”
18. Jailbreak by Thin Lizzy
Thin Lizzy has been cited by several bands like Mastodon, Metallica, and High On Fire as one of the biggest influences on their careers. Formed in Dublin, Thin Lizzy dabbled in several genres, including psychedelic rock, hard rock, and Irish folk music, to forge their own sound. In 1976, they released their sixth album, the hard-rocking classic “Jailbreak,” which was the only record to earn a platinum certification and reach number one on the US charts. The title track serves as a warning to stay out of the way because trouble is coming.
19. I’m Prison Bound by John Lee Hooker
|Album||I’m Prison Bound (Single)|
Known for taking the Delta blues-based and updating it by incorporating electric guitar, Mississippi’s John Lee Hooker was a great musician and a pioneer in the blues genre. Hooker was also quite an accomplished guitar player, being inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. In 1949, he released the single “I’m Prison Bound,” which is a song about a man who is sitting in jail, awaiting his ride to the big house where he will begin serving a 99-year sentence.
20. Murder Was the Case by Snoop Dogg
|Genre||Rap, Hip Hop|
In 1993, Calvin Broadus Jr., also known as Snoop Dogg, was charged with the first-degree murder of Philip Woldermariam, a rival gang member. He was acquitted in 1996 because Woldermariam was shot by Snoop’s bodyguard McKinley Lee. Broadus released “Murder Was the Case,” an updated version of the track that originally appeared on his album “Doggystyle.” The track is about someone who gets shot and winds up in a coma. He awakes from his coma only to commit a crime and get thrown in prison, and subsequently gets murdered while he is in prison.
21. Back on the Chain Gang by The Pretenders
|Genre||Rock, Classic Rock|
|Album||Back on the Chain Gang|
When she moved from Akron, Ohio, to London in 1973, Chrissie Hynde was involved with punk bands like the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Damned before founding The Pretenders. In 1982, the four-time Grammy-nominated band released their album “Back on the Chain Gang,” which included the hit title track. According to Chrissie Hynde, the song has two meanings. The first is about her relationship with Ray Davies from The Kinks, and the second is a tribute to James Honeyman-Scott, their guitar player who died from a drug overdose in 1982.
22. Police Story by Black Flag
When you think of the most influential bands that helped to define punk, Black Flag has to be one of these bands at the top of the list. They were one of the first American punk bands that helped to define the hardcore punk sounds that became prevalent in the 1980s, although they later adopted a heavier sound that was reminiscent of Black Sabbath. They released their debut album in 1981, called “Damaged.” The record’s seventh track, “Police Story,” is a one-and-a-half-minute ode to their disdain for authority and authority figures.
23. Women’s Prison by Loretta Lynn
|Album||Van Lear Rose|
Sometimes love will make you do things that you couldn’t possibly imagine yourself doing otherwise, like committing murder. However, one of the things that could drive you over the edge would be if you discovered that your partner was stepping outside of the relationship and cheating on you. That’s what Loretta Lynn was going through when the only female to ever win the Country Music Awards Entertainer of the Year wrote “Women’s Prison,” which is from her 2004 album “Van Lear Rose,” which also won the Grammy for Best Country Album.
24. Chain Gang by Sam Cooke
|Album||Chain Gang (Single)|
Commonly referred to as the King of Soul, Sam Cooke is one of the most gifted singers and soul artists of all time and a pioneer of the genre who has made countless contributions to modern music. This legend of the soul has been nominated for several awards and has won a Grammy award for Lifetime achievement, as well as been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1960, he released the song “Chain Gang,” which is about the different sounds you hear when working on a prison chain gang.
25. Jailhouse Rock by Elvis Presley
|Genre||Rock and Roll|
|Album||Jailhouse Rock (Original Soundtrack)|
This is quite possibly the most popular and famous song about jail that has ever been written. In 1957, Nedrick Young wrote a story about a drunken man who accidentally kills a belligerent man in a bar fight, and is sentenced to 10 – 14 months in prison. Richard Thorpe brought this idea to life in the film, starring the one and only Elvis Presley. He performed the theme song as well. The movie peaked at the number three spot at the box office and finished at the fourteenth spot for the year.
26. Jail Guitar Doors by The Clash
Often called the most influential and iconic band of their era, The Clash was formed in 1976 as one of the pioneers of the British punk movement that took the world by storm in the 1970s and the 1980s. They are also one of the most respected bands of any genre, combining elements of jazz, punk, hip-hop, and reggae into their music. It all started in 1977, with the release of their self-titled debut, including the track “Jail Guitar Doors,” which is about a guitarist who gets into trouble for drug possession.
27. Never Leave Me Alone by Nate Dogg (Featuring Snoop Dogg)
|Genre||Rap, Hip Hop|
|Album||G-Funk Classics, Vol. 1|
Nathaniel Dwayne Hale has appeared on an incredible 40 singles and has often been called the King of Hooks because he is so highly sought after for guest appearances on hip-hop songs. In 1997, Nate Dogg recorded his debut studio album, “G-Funk Classics, Vol. 1.” Appearing as one of the last three tracks on the album, “Never Leave Me Alone” is a near-six minute funk-filled track about a guy who is trying to resist falling for a girl because he has some upcoming charges that may end up sending him to prison.
28. Still Doing Time by George Jones
|Album||Still the Same Ole Me|
George Jones is one of the most well-known and respected country music artists of all time. He has also been one of the most successful as well, placing an unbelievable 169 singles on the Billboard charts, including 14 number-one hits and 81 songs in the top ten. One of those hit songs to reach the number one spot was “Still Doing Time,” from 1981’s “Still the Same Ole Me,” which is about a man who’s been thrown out for cheating, and he’s serving his time at the local bar, drinking himself to death.
29. Prison Trilogy (Billy Rose) by Joan Baez
|Album||Come From the Shadows|
Actively performing for the last 60 years, Joan Baez incorporated lyrics that pertain to social justice and protest into contemporary folk music that speaks to people of all ages and backgrounds. By 1972, Baez had already released her 13th studio album, which was called “Come From the Shadows.” The first track from that album, which was titled “Prison Trilogy (Billy Rose),” is a song about how the justice system doesn’t even see people as human beings, as well as the effects that being incarcerated in the prison system can have on a person.
30. London Dungeon by The Misfits
|Album||3 Hits From Hell|
If Black Flag is near the top of the list of the most influential American punk bands, then the top spot has to be reserved for The Misfits. Founded in New Jersey, The Misfits were the world’s first horror punk band. First appearing on the Misfits EP, “3 Hits From Hell,” the track “London Dungeon” was an autobiographical account of the time two of the members of The Misfits spent in jail after another band started a fight with them at a London nightclub, and was written while they were in jail.
31. Hurricane by Bob Dylan
Often called one of the greatest songwriters ever, Bob Dylan had a career that spanned six decades. Very few artists have earned the respect of their peers as Dylan has. He is one of the most celebrated American singer-songwriters to ever live and became the first musician in history to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1976, Dylan released his album “Desire,” which featured the song “Hurricane,” this is Bob’s social commentary on the racism in America because of the conviction of Rubin “The Hurricane” Carter on murder charges.
32. Private Hell by Alice In Chains
|Album||Black Gives Way To Blue|
Sometimes being imprisoned doesn’t mean that you are behind bars. There are times when the worst prison you can be trapped inside is your mind. That’s exactly the message that nine-time Grammy nominees Alice In Chains is trying to convey in their song “Private Hell,” which appears on their album “Black Gives Way To Blue.” Some fans of the band believe that this song was written as a tribute to Lane Staley, while others think that it is about being so guarded that you miss any chance that you have for love. If you like this song, you’ll most likely love our playlist of songs about the devil.
33. Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos by Public Enemy
|Genre||Rap, Hip Hop|
|Album||It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back|
Formed in 1985 by Chuck D and Flavor Flav, Long Island’s Public Enemy is the world’s most politically charged rap group, rising to prominence for its outspoken statements on racism and the media. In 1988, the group, which was later awarded the 2020 Grammy Award For Lifetime Achievement, released their second album, “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.” The album features the track “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos,” which pertains to a man who has been wrongfully imprisoned and the plans made to break him out. If you’re looking for songs about jail, this is one you simply have to consider adding to your playlist.
34. Prison Grove by Warren Zevon
Warren Zevon is probably known more for his massive hit song “Werewolves of London” than for anything else. However, he has had 76 releases in a career that spanned over 30 years. Unfortunately, he passed away at 56 years old due to complications from lung cancer. One of Zevon’s most poetic songs was “Prison Grove,” which appeared on his last album, “The Wind.” My interpretation of this song is that it’s the final thoughts of somebody who is on death row, thinking about all of the people who have died before him.
35. Jailhouse by Sublime
|Genre||Ska, Punk, Alternative|
|Album||Everything Under the Sun|
Formed in 1988, Sublime combined elements from reggae, alternative rock, and ska to create a refreshingly new sound. In 2006, they released a box set of rarities called “Everything Under the Sun.” “Jailhouse” is a cover of an old Jamaican song that was about fighting against oppression. It’s also about how the youth grow stronger while the old guard gets weaker. The latter part of the song is from an older Sublime track by Bradley Noel, recalling the days when he was younger and how much he enjoyed that time in his youth.
36. One Love by Nas (Featuring Q-Tip)
|Genre||Rap, Hip Hop|
Much like Tupac Shakur, Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones is generally regarded as one of the greatest rappers to ever pick up a microphone. In 1994, Nas released his debut studio album “Illmatic,” which is widely considered to be one of the greatest rap albums ever made, and was also inducted into the National Library of Congress‘s National Recording Preservation Board in 2020. The record’s seventh track, “One Love,” put into song something he had been doing for years, which was writing letters to all of his friends who were in prison.
37. Rikers Island by Kool G Rap & DJ Polo
|Genre||Rap, Hip Hop|
|Album||Wanted: Dead or Alive|
Built in 1932 and located on the East River between Queens and the Bronx is Rikers Island, which is one of the most dangerous prisons in the world. The 413-square-foot complex holds New York City’s most dangerous criminals and is one place you don’t want to go. This is the place that Kool G Rap & DJ Polo warn us about in the song “Rikers Island. ” It’s the closing track on their album “Wanted: Dead or Alive,” and is where you’ll end up if you turn to a life of crime.
38. Oscar Wilde Gets Out by Elton John
|Album||The Diving Board|
Sir Elton Hercules John CH CBE is a fantastic singer and a phenomenal pianist. He’s released 31 albums since 1969 and is nicknamed The Rocket Man after his 1972 hit song. In 2013, Elton released his 29th studio album, called “The Diving Board,” which was only the second album of his career that he released without his regular supporting band. “Oscar Wilde Gets Out” is the song about the titular person who was homosexual and was jailed for indecency after he was caught having an affair with a British aristocrat in 1895.
39. Jailhouse Blues by Lightnin’ Hopkins
|Album||Jailhouse Blues (Single)|
Samuel John “Lightnin” Hopkins is one of the most influential blues guitarists of all time and an amazing singer-songwriter. Hopkins’ guitar playing was so influential that Rolling Stone listed him 21st on their 100 Greatest Guitarists. His passion for blues music dates back to 8 years old when he met Blind Lemon Jefferson at a church picnic and was taught to play guitar by his cousin, Alger “Texas” Alexander. In his single “Jailhouse Blues,” Hopkins sings about not minding serving time in prison, except he has to stay there entirely too long.
40. I Fought the Law by The Clash
Formed in London in 1976, The Clash is one of the first bands of the British punk rock movement of the 1970s. In 1977, they released their self-titled debut album, announcing their arrival with a bang by covering The Crickets’ classic “I Fought the Law.” In this track, the narrator tells a familiar tale of a young man serving time in prison while missing his significant other. While he is doing hard labor, it seems like the only thing that comforts him is repeating, “I fought the law, and the law won.”
41. High Cost of Living by Jamey Johnson
|Album||That Lonesome Song|
Jamey Johnson debuted in country music in 2006 when he released his first single and album of the same name, called “The Dollar.” Johnson signed a record deal with Mercury Nashville Records in 2008 and released his album “That Lonesome Song,” which was certified gold by the RIAA. The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter included the song “High Cost of Living,” about a guy who used to be trapped by his affinity for drugs and alcohol and is now living what most people would call a normal boring life. However, that’s just fine with him. If you like this song, you’ll likely resonate with many of our favorite songs about pain.
42. Phone Time by Capone N Noreaga
|Genre||Rap, Hip Hop|
While I have never been to prison, I do know that from talking to others who have been there, there are two things that they look forward to during their day. Those two things are mail calls and phone time. That’s the concept that the New York rap duo Capone N Noreaga expanded on when they wrote “Phone Time,” featured on their 2000 album “The Reunion,” which was loved by both fans and critics. The song is a conversation between a father and son while the son is locked up in prison.
43. Locked Up by Akon (Featuring Styles P)
Sometimes in life, we are forced to take risks that we may end up paying for later. Certain situations may force us to make bad decisions that we wouldn’t have otherwise made had it not been necessary. For example, there are times when you might feel like selling drugs or doing something else that’s illegal may be the only way that you can provide food for your family. That’s the message being conveyed in Akon’s “Locked up,” which was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award and appears in 2004’s “Trouble.”
44. Billy Austin by Steve Earle & The Dukes
|Album||The Hard Way|
Steve Earle got his start in Nashville as a country music artist, releasing his first EP in 1982, but later branched out into blues, folk, and bluegrass. Branching out to folk music was a wise career move. Earle has been nominated for 16 Grammy Awards since switching, winning three of them. However, in 1990, Earle was still playing country music and released the album “The Hard Way.” That album featured “Billy Austin,” which is about the titular character, who is serving for murder while robbing a gas station.
45. Mama Tried by Merle Haggard
Nobody will try harder to keep their babies out of jail or prison-like mama will. Most of us have experienced this on more than one occasion, so we all know how much our mothers love us and how badly they want us to succeed. However, above anything else, our moms want us to stay out of trouble. On his 1968 album “Killers Three,” Academy of Country Music Award winner Merle Haggard manages to tell us in just over two minutes how hard his mama tried. Apparently, he wasn’t listening too well.
46. Famous in a Small Town by Miranda Lambert
When you live in a small town, whatever you do, the word’s going to get around because small-town gossip spreads quicker than wildfire. I believe that’s why so many people who grow up in these towns want to escape to the big city. The majority of them aren’t seeking fame. They are looking for the anonymity that big cities provide. It’s just like CMA winner Miranda Lambert says in “Famous in a Small Town,” it doesn’t matter if you’re late for church or stuck in jail, somebody’s going to find out.
47. Jailbreak by AC/DC
|Genre||Hard Roc, Classic Rock|
|Album||Live at Donington|
Love can make you do strange things, and jealousy can make you into a monster that you don’t recognize. Before you claim that you will never fall victim to that green-eyed monster, you never know what you will do in a given situation until you find yourself in that situation. Sadly, prisons are filled with people who would have never thought that they were capable of murder until they saw their significant other with someone else. That’s the story behind AC/DC’s “Jailbreak,” from their acclaimed 1992 concert film “Live at Donington.” This is one of my personal favorite songs about prison.
48. Son Of a Prison Guard by Train
Sometimes we meet the love of Our Lives and have a whirlwind relationship that seems like it’s straight out of a romance novel. However, this may not last as long as we want it to last. Every person we are with for the rest of our lives will forever be compared to that one special person that got away. That’s the kind of love the prison guard had with his son’s mother in the sorrowful tale “Son Of a Prison Guard,” which is from Train’s seventh album, 2014’s Billboard charting “Bulletproof Picasso.”
49. Prison Time by Colin Hay
Best known for his time in the band Men At Work, Colin Hay has had some success and his solo career as a musician, singer, songwriter, and actor. Men At Work’s former frontman is still actively recording and releasing music, as well as touring. In 2009, he released the album “American Sunshine,” which includes the song “Prison Time.” This track compares a rather nasty breakup and the time since the falling out to a present sentence. Since he’s been without his love, it feels like his mind’s been doing time.
50. Bad Boys by Inner Circle (Featuring Tek)
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Everybody knows this song as the theme from “Cops. ” If you lived under a rock and didn’t watch television for the past two decades, “Cops” was a reality show in which camera crews follow police officers around and documented the arrests they made, as well as other exploits and situations they may have been involved in on that shift. However, what many people do not know is that this track is found on the album “Bad Boys,” which won a Grammy for Best Reggae Album.
51. Bars Of the County Jail by David Bowie
|Genre||Alternative, Classic Rock|
|Album||Early On (1964-1966|
David Bowie is a musical chameleon and is often called one of the most influential figures in music. He is also called The Thin White Duke and was actively recording and touring until passing away two days before his 69th birthday from cancer. Much earlier in his career, he recorded a song called “Bars of the County Jail,” although it wasn’t officially released until 1991, on a compilation album called “Early On (1964-1966).” Attract is about a man who was set up for his father-in-law’s murder, as well as stealing his gold.
52. Born In a Prison by Yoko Ono
|Album||Some Time in New York City|
Yoko Ono is a singer, songwriter, artist, and activist and the wife of former Beatles legend John Lennon. Born in Japan, Ono grew up in Tokyo but moved to New York City with her family in 1953. That’s where she met John Lennon in 1966, and the rest is history. In 1972, Yoko released an album with John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band called “Some Time in New York City.” The album featured the song “Born In a Prison,” which compares being in school to being in a prison.
53. The Mercy Seat by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
|Album||The Man Who Loved Yngve (Original Soundtrack)|
Formed in Australia in 1983, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds have been nominated for two Grammy Awards. In 1988, he contributed a song to the film “The Man Who Loved Yngve” called “The Mercy Seat.” The best interpretation of that song is that it’s about a man who finds it hard to live by the conventional rules of society or live up to everyone’s expectations. Eventually, this leads to him committing murder. Although he doesn’t blame himself for the murder, he welcomes the death penalty as a form of sweet relief.
54. The Midnight Special by Creedence Clearwater Revival
|Album||Willy and the Poor Boys|
Creedence Clearwater Revival is a three-piece outfit from El Cerrito and is known for the social commentary in their songs. Formed in 1959, the band went through several name changes before settling on a name that would go down in Rock and Roll history, culminating in an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They released “Willy and the Poor Boys” in 1969. That album featured “The Midnight Special,” which is about prisoners being able to see the lights from a train called The Midnight Special through their windows at midnight.
55. Prisoner’s Song by Dropkick Murphys
|Album||Signed and Sealed in Blood|
Celtic punk band, the Dropkick Murphys, was formed in 1996 in Massachusetts, with lead vocalist and bassist Ken Casey being the band’s only consistent member. However, that did not stop them from making a few appearances on Billboard, taking three albums to number six, eight, and number nine, respectively. One of those albums was their ninth effort, “Signed and Sealed in Blood,” featuring “Prisoner’s Song.” This is about a prisoner who is regretting some of the choices he’s made and looking forward to the day when he can be free again.
56. Double Trouble by Lynyrd Skynyrd
|Genre||Southern Rock, Classic Rock|
|Album||Gimme Back My Bullets|
Southern rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd aren’t actually from Alabama. They formed in Jacksonville, Florida, under the name My Backyard. The name change was a pretty good idea because Lynyrd Skynyrd was not only listed in Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists Of All Time, but they were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1976, they released their fourth album, “Gimme Back My Bullets.” Included on that record was “Double Trouble,” which is about someone who’s been in and out of the prison system for years.
57. Prison Blues by Jimmy Page
Known primarily for being the lead guitarist and founder of Led Zeppelin, James Patrick Page is considered to be one of the greatest guitar players in the world. In fact, Jimmy Page is ranked number three on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitar Players of All Time. In 1988, Page released a solo album called “Outlander.” On that album was a song called “Prison Blues,” in which a man compares being in the relationship he’s in is much like being in prison, and it doesn’t seem like he’ll be getting out anytime soon.
That does it for this article. Regardless of what type of prison you’re in, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. If you’re looking for a more uplifting playlist, check out our playlist of songs about freedom. When you get out of the prison you’re in, freedom is waiting for you.
Hi, my name is Kevin and I’m from Butler, Pennsylvania. I’ve been obsessed with music and audio gear for as long as I can remember. I started this website to help people find professional advice related to a wide range of audio topics. We have a number of Audio Engineers on our team who have been designing and fixing audio gear for decades.