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It sounds like the oldest cliché in the book. But Josh Turner will insist that his smash hit "Long Black Train" really did appear to him "in a vision."
Josh wrote the song in 1999 as a 21-year-old college student at Nashville's Belmont University. The night Josh experienced his mystical vision, he had been listening to a Hank Williams CD box set while in the campus library.
"I got into this little cubicle with my headphones on," recalls Josh. "It really made me feel like I was in the same room as him."
Perhaps Hank served as some kind of inspiration. When Josh started his walk home across the Belmont campus, he noticed that there was something unusually dark about the night. Halfway home, something happened that stopped Josh dead in his tracks.
"I had this vision of this wide open space way out in the plains somewhere, and there was this train track running down the middle," he explains. "From out of the darkness, this long, black, beautiful train came roaring down. I could see people standing out to the sides of the track watching this train go by."
Naturally, a few questions started running through Josh's mind. What did it all mean? How was it relevant to him, or anyone else, for that matter? After some serious reflection, Josh came up with an answer.
"It dawned on me that this train was a physical metaphor for temptation," says Josh, earnestly. "These people were caught up in the decision of whether or not to get on."
By the time Josh reached home, he realized that he was on to something powerful. Pulling out his guitar, he sat on his bed and began writing: There's a long black train, comin' down the line. He finished three verses along with the rousing chorus, but the next morning, he knew that a final verse was needed to drive this "train" home.
And the stirring message hit home with fans. "Long Black Train" became Josh's first single in 2003, ultimately driving sales of Josh's debut album into the Top 10.
"I think the beauty of this song is that it relates to anybody," says Josh in his trademark deep voice. "Everybody has had their own long black train to deal with in life."
Right now, though, Josh's career is rolling down a straight and steady path. "I didn't expect it to happen this fast, but it's all very welcome!" says Josh with a laugh. "I'm going to be touring a lot this yearso that will help me pay off my school loans."
-- Alanna Horner