In “Walk the Line,” June Carter refers to Johnny Cash’s voice as “Steady like a train, sharp like a razor.”
Amen, sister. When I think of Johnny, without fail I’ll get an image in my head of an old steam train– big, black, strong & steady. And of course that classic Cash chicka-boom rhythm sounds just like a trusty ol’ train a rollin’ round the bend, and right on time– so reliable, you could set your watch to it. Yeah, Johnny Cash sang a lot about trains, prison and hard times– and we all know through his epic lyrics that the beauty of the train is that it represents the freedom of leaving the past behind. All that crap that you just need to separate yourself from with miles and miles of railroad track and dust. A new start, a second chance.
There’s also something lonely and soulful about a train ride– staring out as the barren landscape goes drifting by. It’s just you and that train. It holds you there firmly, with nothin’ to distract you from who and what you’re leaving behind– as the soothing click of the rails beneath your feet reminds you that soon it’ll all be long gone.