Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
Liked it more than I expected to!
on January 2, 2012
Ride This Train reflects a new feeling of freedom and exploration in America's culture. Interstate highways were being built and cars mass produced, making it easier for travelers to discover America's treasures. The memories of World War II belonged to a generation past, and although America was entering a time of high pressure Cold War, without the media presence that we have today to keep people on alert and fearful for their safety, many people were still living simple lives, dreaming of the day they could take their families to travel around the nation. This album allowed them to do just that without leaving their homes.
When Columbia Records first released this recording, the public assumed it was a compilation of songs about trains, due to the title and the cover showing Johhny Cash on a desert ridge holding a gun, with a train in the background. What they soon discovered was that the record contained eight tracks that gave examples of the different people that make up our great land. It uses the train as transport--complete with sound effects--to take the listener on a tour of America, through space and time, a historical travelogue combining narrations and songs.
The first track, "Loading Coal", tells the story of a boy whose father is a miner in Kentucky. Not a glamorous occupation by any means, but the boy is dreaming of the day when he can follow in his father's footsteps. The train then moves westward where we hear about John Wesley Hardin, a notorious outlaw, followed by the glimpse of the life of an old saddle tramp, "Slow Rider".
The traveling theme continues, with narration between the songs, as the music takes the listener to Oregon, timber country, where the song "Lumberjack" tells of the first day of climbing for a new high-climber. Crossing back to Louisiana, Johnny sings "Dorraine of Pontchartrain", a sad song about a woman who lost her life on the waters there.
Now the music is "Going to Memphis", which is a song not about the music life as you would expect a Memphis based song to be, but about a convict on a work-gang. "When Papa Played the Dobro" is a fun song, designed to bring the listener back up from the black tone of the previous track, telling the story of going to the fair and the joy a child found in listening to his father play.
"Boss Jack" takes the listener to Arkansas, to Johnny's hometown of Dyess, describing an idyllic picture of cotton plantation life, as many wish it had been. Traveling once more on that train takes the listener to Iowa, where Irish immigrants have settled. Relating the story of "Old Doc Brown", Johnny shares about how one man can influence the lives of so many others through generosity and goodwill.
And so ends the travels through the country, leaving the listener with the feeling that they have actually met these people and experienced these places, thanks to the lyrics and music of Johnny Cash and other writers. I am not necessarily a fan of `old' music, but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this CD and will make some of these songs a regular part of my listening pleasure.