Songs about somebody in prison kind of have to be country songs, don't they? Or maybe rap. Metal?
I have a lyric about a guy in jail and I don't want to write another country song. What else would be fun?
Polka! No, really; twist your listener's expectations with a gritty prison song set to an upbeat polka. Depending on the actual lyrics, the contrast could be sinister, or uplifting (reflecting how the character's mind is free even as his body is imprisoned), or lots of other possibilities.
I did a singer songwriter/rock song about an escape from a prison bus for a skirmish one year. I actually like that song a heck of a lot.
I think Joan Baez did a folk song about her ex who was serving time. "A Song for David".
@standup Folk lends itself beautifully to prison songs. I've written a couple involving prisoners, though the stories' settings were one or two centuries ago.
Midnight Special, Mr. Bojangles, House Of The Rising Sun, Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree, Elvis Presley - Jailhouse Rock, Bob Dylan - Hurricane, of course Johnny Cash wrote/sang a few etc.
I've mentioned in my songs people who had to do time (including some loosely based on people I've known). But in all these years I've never written a real jail song.
"Jailbreak" by Thin Lizzy is a good one. "Johnny 99" by Bruce Springsteen (he's done others). Regarding polka - many of those Mexican outlaw songs (I forget what they are called) sound like polka.
A good skirmish prompt would be "Prisoner of (insert word here)."
Just found this current 5090 first person song about being a prisoner by @Jyllian http://fiftyninety.fawmers.org/song/21488
I'm headed out of town tomorrow, so don't have time to work on this, and on vacation I'll only have an acoustic guitar.
So I posted the lyrics for my prison song, if anybody wants to provide music let me know!