Clay County Blues

Many of you said you liked “The Week Before Christmas,” so I decided to try my hand at something similar. You should know up front, though, that I’m not a Johnny Cash fan. Don’t hate ‘im, but don’t really like ‘im either. I do however, like his song “Folsom Prison Blues.”

When we first moved to Piggott, Arkansas, we rented the longtime home of my Grandfather, the late Roy Huffman’s home. If you know the home, you know its proximity to the railroad tracks. If you don’t know the home, let’s just say you can wave to the engineers from the back steps of the house…and you’re close enough to see them smile at you! Truth be told, after a while, you grow accustomed to the trains—and yes, we could even sleep through most of them. They were, however, a part of our everyday life.

Actually, they created a stronger interest in trains by both Brett, my son, and I—but that’s another column for another day.

So, if you’re a Cash fan, I extend my apologies to you. Otherwise, read this while humming “Folsom Prison Blues.”

I hear the train a’comin’
It’s comin’ through my door,
I hear the train a’coming,
And I can’t sleep no more.
I’m wide awake at midnight,
The night keeps draggin’ on,
But that train keeps a-rollin’,
On down t’wards Jones-boro.

When I was just a young lad,
My Mama told me, “Ro,
Never hit your sister,
Don’t jump on moving trains.”
But I did it anyway,
While out in sunny C-A.
And when I jumped off that boxcar
I fractured my el-bow.

I bet you folks are thinkin’,
That I ain’t got no sense,
Ol’ Ramblin’s been a’drinkin’,
Or else he’s pretty dense.
But those trains come like clockwork,
You can count it tick tick,
And if I hear another whistle
I’ll bang my head on a’brick

Guitar here!

Well, if I was a rich man,
If that railroad train was mine,
I’d take off all the whistles,
And then I’d sleep just fine.
I’d sleep on my right side,
That’s where I want to stay,
Then I’d turn over on my back,
And snore the night a-way.


1 Comment

Filed under Columns

One response to “Clay County Blues

  1. ant'ny

    I grew up in a small town, in a house without air-conditioning. In the summer, all the windows were open to catch any errant breeze and I actually got used to the trains and the (evantually) soothing sound they made. I went off to college and everything was too quiet–I had become dependent on the trains, whistle & all, for a relaxing sleep. I have been a poor sleeper ever since.

    Fast forward quite a few years, to when my wife and I bought our first house. It was about a block and a half from the railroad crossing. “How nice,” I thought, “I’ll be ‘rocked’ to sleep by the train noise, just like when I was a kid.”

    Sweet heavens ta betsy, but THAT was as far from the truth as a situation could be. We lived there for 4 years and every single train that passed thru at night woke me up. It was nice, after our son was born, to walk him down there and wave to the engineers, granted.

    Whatever the equivalent of “fair-weather friend” is (daylight fan?), that’s me. We’ve since moved further away from the tracks and, while I’m not a good sleeper, it’s become a bit better.

    I want to hear more about the fractured elbow/moving boxcar story! 🙂

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