Travelin’ the road with the Man in Black


Traveling with my four younger girls this past Sunday an impromptu a cappella concert broke out in the back seat, featuring an interesting array of songs.

The girls had been prompted by my wife, who had sung to them the night before as they were lying in bed, about to turn in for the night.

Mrs. Cotton Boll is blessed with a beautiful voice that could melt the stars, and she’s made a point of singing to my daughters since she came into their lives nearly five years ago.

It’s apparent from listening to my progeny warble away this past weekend that her efforts are reaping rewards.

To set the scene, daughters nos. 2, 4 and 5 were in the backseat and handled the singing. Daughter No. 3 was up front with me and chose to sit out the “session.”

The three began with songs that Mrs. Cotton Boll had taught them, including “In the Highways,” written by Maybelle Carter, of the famed Carter family; “Jesus, I Heard You had a Big House,” another Gospel song; and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

They then broke into a couple of pop songs of which I had never heard – nor do I care to hear again – before, after a bit of whispering among themselves, came this:

I hear the train a comin’
It’s rolling round the bend
And I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when,
I’m stuck in Folsom prison, and time keeps draggin’ on
But that train keeps a rollin’ on down to San Antone…

When I was just a baby my mama told me. ‘Son,
Always be a good boy, don’t ever play with guns.’
But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die
When I hear that whistle blowing, I hang my head and cry…

I don’t know what was more astounding: To hear my 9-, 12- and 13-year old sing the line “… I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die,” or the fact that they were able to belt it out so clearly.

Being a fan of Johnny Cash, I couldn’t help but be impressed with their rendition of “Folsom Prison Blues.”

And it’s refreshing that they’ve got a taste in something beside the mindless formulaic musical tripe being churned out to kids their age.

Daughter no. 4, in particular, is a big Johnny Cash aficionado and it warms my heart to see her, and her sisters, enjoying music with some real heart and soul.

I may even have to break down and purchase a CD featuring songs from the Man in Black.

I will, however, be keeping a close eye on all four should we ever find ourselves passing through Reno.


7 thoughts on “Travelin’ the road with the Man in Black

  1. Dag nab it,
    Seeing “the man in black” I thought this was something about Ritchie Blackmore, rock guitarist extraordinaire and founding member of what I call “the thinking man’s hard rock band” Deep Purple. Yes, I will admit it, the only band of that genre that is still listen to and they are still touring unknown to most Americans. Blackmore went weird a few years back and now plays “fairie music.” Oh well, my bad.

    Because your mine,
    Please sumthin, sumthin (forgot those lyrics too) but can still hear the dump, diddle dump (his famous lick).

    • Talk about a group way ahead of its time. It took me about 30 years to figure out the lyrics to Smoke on the Water, but when I did, and learned the story behind the song, I was amazed. Now that’s talent.

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