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Page #2 Of 6

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Hardin Wouldn't Run

Hardin Wouldn’t Run. I wrote this after reading the autobiography John Wesley Harden wrote just before he was killed. Mr. Goddard Lieberson, President of Columbia Records, asked me to write something for "the badmen" a volume in the Columbia Records legacy collection he produced no long ago. I was late getting the song in, so we saved for this album. John Wesley Hardin, a desperado, married Jane Bowen, the two were on the train headed for Pensacola when Hardin was arrested. He was imprisoned at Huntsville Texas, for fifteen years. Jane waited faithfully but died a few months before her husband’s pardon. In prison, Hardin studied law and open a law office in EL Paso soon after his pardon. Clients were few. Juarez, Mexico, and it’s women were handy, and booze was plentiful. John Selman’s, a local constable had pistol-whipped Selman’s son.

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Here are some more definitions that will help you under stand the song better; Plow-handle > the drawing hand; plow-handle is a nickname for the shape of the stock on the colt single-action army revolver. ( Col. Samuel Colt invented the revolver; his first one was a five-shooter, not a six. He said he got the idea from watching the paddle wheel of a ship of a ship going to India on in 1835) . Skin his gun > a fast draw Tophand > The boss or number-one man, an expert; Goose Hair > Feather Bed ; Red Eye > Whiskey

Ride This Train


This fascination program presents Johnny Cash as singer and narration in an imaginative travelogue across America. Ride This Train is not, as might be supposed, a collection of train songs. It is a provocative tour of the country through narration and song. Through the background runs the haunting sound of the now vanishing steam locomotives and their whistles, sounds that used to echo through the nights of small towns and across the empty plains. Most of the people this story tells about are vanished now, too, but they have left their mark on America, and Johnny Cash sings about them with uncommon artistry and sympathy. The travelogue begins with a recital of place-names of America, majestic in their artless poetry, and continues with the thundering names of the Indian tribes who lived here first. The Johnny Cash boards the train, stopping first at a small town in the mining country of Kentucky. He presents a brief character sketch of a boy whose father is a miner – when he comes home “nothing is clean but the whites of his eyes” and whose ambition is to follow that calling. “Loading Coal” tells the story of a miner who never expects to get rich, but still follows the tradition of his family. The Train then moves westward into the prairies, where we meet the outlaw John Wesley Hardin, whose murderous life is described with candor. Then we meet another Westerner, a saddle tramp who rides an Old Paint. His life is nearly spent, he misses his daughters and wife, but he tries to keep on singing “Slow Rider”. Johnny Cash next takes us still farther west, to Oregon, into lumberjack country, and outlines a young man’s first day as a high-climber. Among the lessons he learns is “Don’t Cut Timber On A Windy Day” (Lumberjack). Then the fabulous engine carries the train south and east, to the swamps and forest of Louisiana, where the Acadians settled in 1788. Johnny Cash presents his own composition, a tragic ballad of (Dorraine Of Ponchartrain), the black-eyed beauty who was lost in a boat amid the choppy waves of the lake. 

Note: What folks casually call a "Dobro" is technically a resonator guitar - Dobro is actually the brand name of most popular type, made by the Gibson company. The name is short for the Dopyera  Brothers, the siblings who produced the first resonator guitar in 1927. 

Now the train goes northward, up to Mississippi and its levees and the constant fight against flood waters. In this sequence Johnny Cash sings his own version of “Going To Memphis”, a striking song of the convict work-gangs with remarkable contrast between the abjection of its lyrics (My brother was killed for a deed I did but I disremember what ), and its urgent rhythm. Eastward, now, the South Carolina. Here Johnny Cash sketches the delights of going of going to a county fair in a buckboard, and the pleasure of a child in listening to dance music after judging events are conclude. The song is Johnny’s own When “Papa Played The Dobro”, the dobro being an old-fashioned metal-stringed instrument, similar to the guitar. Papa didn’t know much about music by real standards, but when he played it was worth sitting up for ! Arkansas is the next stop in this remarkable journey. Johnny Cash describes the cotton land, particularly the old days of tall cotton, through the eyes of an enlightened slave owner, and sings a work-song about a good boss, “Boss Jack” and his kindness to the people who worked for him. Once more the train rumbles across America, stopping at last in Iowa, where the influx of Irish immigrants is noted, with a special accent on the interdependence of arrivals in the New World. The story of “Old Doc Brown” is recited by Johnny Cash, and although the trip is now over, echoes of American past remain vivid. 

 Note: Johnny Cash’s brilliant performance is in this program is yet another in his steadily growing list of achievements. The writer of any successful songs, he also a performing artist of unusual accomplishment. 

Mister Garfield

This song was bought to me by folk singer Jack Elliott. I wrote most of the song’s dialogue. It’s is eight years old and to my knowledge has never been recorded Jack recorded "The Ballad Of Charles Guiteau" about a man who shot President Garfield.

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This Illustration To The Right Shows The Events Of July 2, 1881 When President Garfield Was Shot While Waiting For A Train to Take Him From Washington DC. To A Speaking Engagement Secretary Of State James C. Blaine, Accompanying The President, Pointed Out The Assassin Charles J. Guiteau, Who Was Tried And Hanged in 1881. Garfield Died On September 19,1881, At A Summer Resort In New Jersey.


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