First discovery: The record in the sleeve is not the same as the album title! They are both Johnny Cash, but the sleeve says “I Walk the Line,” and the record is “Rock Island Line.” Alex actually just picked this record up at Platter World, which we just discovered as New Jersey residents and very sadly, it is in the process of closing its doors. However, that means that they records are going at amazing prices. So if you live in the area, I’m sharing the secret: go check out Platter World before it’s gone forever.
Okay, so I guess we’re listening to “Rock Island Line,” which is a compilation. There’s not good information about when it came out, but it was around the early 70’s, according to discogs.com. I love that this happened actually. It could only happen in a used record store! Let’s put it on! The first song is called “Rock Island Line.”
It appears to be a talking story type song about the rock island train line. Ohh and then he starts singing in the fast way that really makes you think you’re playing the record at the wrong speed!
The second song has a very sweet sounding guitar solo and it does make you want to get up and dance. The main verse is “get rhythm when you get the blues,” so you can tell it’s a dancing song already. If you were listening to this song played live at like a backyard club where everyone was sitting around tables and drinking wine, you would grab your sweetheart and go dance in front of the band. It would be hard not to.
I love how this music feels really simple, but then when you listen to it closely it doesn’t sound simple at all. Like you could play this with one guitar by a campfire, but Johnny Cash’s arrangements really have a lot going on. The third song is pretty sad with the line, “everybody’s baby but mine’s coming home.”
There appears to be a railroad theme with this album. This song is called “Hey Porter.” And the one before it was called “Train of Love.”
On to side two! The wikipedia page track listing is not in the same order as the track listing on my record. BTW. I know more of Johnny Cash’s big hits, so I’m really appreciating this album. Even though most of these songs are about trains, they’re really good. His voice and guitar are just intoxicating. It’s making me feel very calm. Especially “I Heard That Lonesome Whistle.”
“Home of the Blues,” has really great lyrics. I’m especially loving this line: Just around the corner there’s heartaches down the street that losers use. If you can wade in through the teardrop, you’ll find me at the home of the blues.” Down the street that losers use is so good.
The album ends with the more upbeat “Wide Open Road,” which makes you want to get up and dance again, bringing us full circle! All in all I love this album! I’m glad it was this album in the sleeve by mistake, and will definitely listen to it again.
Alex Says: Garfield New Jersey is about a half-hour north of us. I didn’t know Platter World existed until I heard there was a record store nearby letting go of its inventory at fire sale prices. So I went up there.
I showed up right when it opened, and it was just me and three or four other guys crate digging. I could tell right away this was one of those “benign neglect” record stores, because it was records on top of records with records hung from the ceiling for decoration, and shelves that were literally crumbling and lashed together with twine to keep from falling apart.
The person who was manning the counter asked me how I heard about it, and I told her I heard online. She told me her dad, Charlie, had run the record store for something like 40 years. I told her it was my idea of heaven, to which she replied “keep coming back, we have about twice as much heaven in the back we’re slowly bringing out.” Periodically, a guy wearing a respirator mask would come out of the back with a sealed box of hundreds of records.
I mostly got disco singles, but I managed to find a couple of albums I was interested in - a Ray Charles record, the original broadcast of War of the Worlds, and this Johnny Cash record. A lot of them were pretty beat up - no sleeves, scratched up. This Cash record looked like it was in good shape, and it was. It’s not the right record, but after listening to a half hour of amazing train songs, that seems like a small oversight.