Prison Songs

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Prison Songs[1]
The Other Side
Original Broadcast Date
Joe Frank
59 minutes
Preceded by: No Angel
Followed by: The Box

It was a particularly hot day of a sweltering summer in Manhattan.

Prison Songs is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series The Other Side. It was originally broadcast on October 31, 1999.


Narrator and mother on the beach. Peeping at a naked woman, friend falls to his death. Man's story of coming to USA as a boy and wanting a girl but winds up learning about being Jewish. Prison song. Struggling performer meets with a priest becomes a salesman for priest's materials ends in a strange relationship. Narrator recalls losing a girlfriend like an amputation. "Needs Love" diatribe. Russian immigrant describes person who lost his joy once he became successful. Song. A guy describes being in and out of prison for 18 years. Narrator and an lavish party where a man explodes. Narrator describes his father killed in a grinder when he was five, piano lessons when ten, therapist who dies. Driving a cab for foreign, arguing couple. Contemplations of purpose and success.



  • The prison songs which appear here and in several other programs are from a compilation of field recording made in 1947 by and released in the 50s on the album "Negro Prison Songs." The album has been re-released, along with previously unpublished material from the same source tapes, on two CDs by Rounder:
  • Prison Songs: Historical Recordings from Parchman Farm 1947-48 Volume 1: Murderous Home (Alan Lomax, Rounder CD 1714, 1997, #ASIN: B0000002UV)
  • Prison Songs: Historical Recordings from Parchman Farm 1947-48 Volume 2. Don'tcha Hear Poor Mother Calling? (Alan Lomax, Rounder CD 1715, 1997, #ASIN: B0000002UW)