Johnny Cash: Ride This Train

This concept album ranks with the most thematically ambitious of Johnny Cash's career, though the title's a little misleading. Instead of a collection of train songs, he alternates the spoken-word narrative of a rail trip that crosses the country (and cuts across centuries) with songs about the characters you might meet along the way. From a Kentucky coal miner ("Loading Coal") to an Oregon logger ("Lumberjack") to a convict on a Mississippi chain gang ("Going to Memphis"), Cash inhabits the various manifestations of what he calls "the heart and muscle of this land." In "Slow Rider" he combines the folk standard "I Ride an Old Paint" with the gunfighter legend of John Wesley Hardin. The reissue of this 1960 release adds four bonus tracks, story songs in a similar spirit but without the narration. 

Price: $6.99

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