Temptations are everywhere. They may come from every place, in all forms. As Christians, we believe we are born imperfect. But that does not mean we’re purely alone. We cling to God and let Him rule over us in order to avoid these temptations.
Josh Turner’s ‘Long Black Train” is full of metaphorical and figurative language about this topic. Let me enlighten you with some of the thoughts rich in this popular country gospel as we dig deep into some of its lyrics.
The ‘Long Black Train’
This is a song about a train ride you don’t want to ride on.
There’s a long black train
Coming down the line
Feeding off the souls that are lost and crying
Tails of sin only evil remains
Watch out brother for that long Black Train
This long, dark train is picking up passengers. These are the people who have not left behind their life of sinful behavior. And they are in danger of a one-way ticket to the second, and final death.
Look to the heavens
You can look to the skies
You can find redemption
Staring back into your eyes
There is protection and there is
Peace the same burn in your ticket for that
Long Black Train
It’s high time to look for help to get away from the dangerously strange train. Now is the time to get onboard with God’s protection, a protection provided by the Redeemer known as Christ the Lord.
’cause there’s victory in the lord I say
Victory in the lord
Cling to the father and his holy name
And don’t go riding on that long Black Train
Christ will set you free from the truth, and he will give believers peace through the destruction of that one-way ticket to death!
Josh Turner’s Vision
In 2000, Josh Turner was a student at Belmont University where he used to listen to Hank Williams music.
A wave of emotions began to wash over him as he sat in a cubicle one evening – respect for the purity of the music, but also compassion for Hank and the challenges he faced in his life.
In an interview, Turner notes
“Several of the songs were just Hank and his guitar. A lot of it had never been released before, and it really inspired me.”
After listening to all those Hank Williams songs, a strange thing happened to him on his way home. He adds
“As I was walking back home, I had a vision of a wide open place on the plains, with a train track running straight down the middle of the fields. It was completely dark, but there was a harvest moon that was lighting up the sky. I notice a bunch of people standing around this track. A long beautiful, shiny black train came down the track, and the people were trying to decide whether to get on it. Somehow they knew this train led to nowhere, but they were wondering what it would be like to ride on it.”
When he got home, he tried to figure out what his vision meant.
“It finally dawned on me that this train was a symbol for temptation,” Turner says, and it wasn’t long before he picked up his guitar and began playing. “I hit a B flat chord. I just strummed for what seemed like an eternity, but once the words finally started pouring out, it was like they didn’t want to quit.”
He wrote three verses and a chorus that night and the last verse the next morning. He says the song also reflected a lot of things that he was going through personally, in his relationships, and trying to find a career focus.