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Dark as a Dungeon
"Dark as a Dungeon" is a song written by singer-songwriter Merle Travis. It is a lament about the danger and drudgery of being a coal miner in a shaft mine. It has become a rallying song among miners seeking improved working conditions.
The song achieved much of its fame when it was performed by Johnny Cash in his Folsom Prison concert (At Folsom Prison). During this live performance, one of the prisoners in the background was laughing, and Cash started to chuckle. He gently admonished the man, "No laughing during the song, please!" The man yelled something about "Hell!" and Cash answered, "I know, 'hell'!" When he finished the song, Cash made a comment that was largely repeated, somewhat out of context, by Joaquin Phoenix in the 2005 film Walk the Line: "I just wanted to tell you that this show is being recorded for an album released on Columbia Records, so you can't say 'hell' or 'shit' or anything like that."
- Merle Travis on Folk Songs of the Hills, 1946
- Cisco Houston, Early 1950s
- Tennessee Ernie Ford, (1955)
- Harry Belafonte on "The Many Moods of Belafonte" (1962)
- Grandpa Jones, 1963
- The Big 3, 1963
- Johnny Cash, studio version as the b-side of "Understand Your Man" single (1964)
- Wolfe Tones on "Foggy Dew" -as "Down in the Mines" (1965)
- The Twiliters on "In Concert" (1966)
- Johnny Cash, live version on "At Folsom Prison" (1968)
- Merle Travis with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on Will the Circle Be Unbroken (1972)
- Peter Grudzien on The Garden Of Love
- Dolly Parton on 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs (1980)
- The Weavers on Together Again (1980)
- The Spinners on In our Liverpool Home as "Lure of the Mines" (1983)
- Patrick Sky, 1985
- Wall of Voodoo on Seven Days in Sammystown (1985)
- The Seldom Scene with Charlie Waller on 15th Anniversary Celebration (1988)
- Frank Tovey on Tyranny and the Hired Hand (1989)
- Souled American on Sonny (1992)
- The Chieftains with Vince Gill on Down the Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions (2002)
- Marley's Ghost on Ghost Country (1996)
- Queens of the Stone Age, 2005 
- Mark Linkous (recording as Sparklehorse) MOJO Magazine Tribute CD to Johnny Cash (2006)
- Charlie Louvin on Sings Murder Ballads and Disaster Songs (2008)
- Kathy Mattea on Coal (2008)
- Willie Nelson on Country Music (2010)
- Amy Grant on the Lee C. Camp & Friends specialty album, Tokens 9: "Back to Green" (2010) 
- Maddox Brothers and Rose 1950
- John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats on The Front Porch Sessions (The Front Porch Festival, 2012)
- Slobberbone recorded a version of Dark as a dungeon in 1998 on the Your excuse EP
- The Journeymen on Coming Attraction - Live (1962)
- Brock Zeman on "songs from the mud" (2004)
- The Rebel on Krot (2014)
- Fret! on the "Killing Nico EP" (2016)
- John Cowan (2000) Self-titled CD for Sugar Hill Records
- John Mellencamp (2017)
- Heather Pierson Acoustic Trio (2017) on Singin'
- Bob Dylan on the archival release The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings
- Joni Mitchell on the archival release Joni Mitchell Archives – Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963–1967) (2020)
- Rise Up Singing page 145
- Gross, Jason (November 18, 2008). "Prisoners Are the Best Audience: The Challenge of 'At Folsom Prison'". PopMatters. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
- "Queens of the Stone Age - Dark as a Dungeon (Johnny Cash cover / Portland, 2005)". youtube.com. Retrieved 2011-02-26.
- "Dark As a Dungeon - Amy Grant: Lee C. Camp and Friends: MP3 Downloads". Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- Reed, Ryan (June 28, 2017). "Hear John Mellencamp's Reverent 'Dark as a Dungeon' for Coal Mining Doc". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
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