Monday, 14 December 2009

Ride This Train

Today I was riding the train with Johnny Cash, that is if by train you mean Ford Fiesta, and by Johnny Cash you mean a black rucksack. My journey was through Staffordshire, he was my soundtrack, his 1960 album, Ride This Train. Johnny released 3 albums in 1960, this was the middle of the three.
This is an odd album really, it’s a concept album, considered to be one of the very first concept albums and Johnny opens each track with a little narrative about the destination the train will be taking you to, and somehow linking that to the song that comes after it. All the while you can hear in the background the clickety-clack of the train on the tracks. It was the first time I had listened to this album, and outside of a single song, Going To Memphis, I hadn’t heard any of it before.
Of the 8 songs that appeared on the original disc, Cash only wrote 3, he lets the troubadours, folklore artists and story tellers of the US tell the tales that make up Johnny Cash’s fictional journey. He isn’t about the now, or the modern, but he never was and these songs are more akin to the 1800’s than 1960. Johnny talks, not for the first time, about John Wesley Hardin, the outlaw, and that’s what these songs are about, Cowboys and Outlaws, about journeys and destinations. Cash does what he does best when he is painting you a picture, on this album he wants the picture to be that of one that goes past as you ride this train.
Cash really isn’t about modernity, through his entire career Cash harked back to an era of cottonfields and shacks, you couldn’t imagine talk of ipods and emails coming into his songs could you. This album is thankfully before the time of ipods and emails, and it is all the better for it. 10 out of 10.

Old Doc Brown by Johnny Cash

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