North - Blackie & the Rodeo Kings

from the album South (2014)

One of my favorite Johnny Cash songs is Get Rhythm.  The central character of the song is a shoe shine boy who "gets rhythm" in order to cope with his mundane job.  He accomplishes this by creating rhythms with his horsehair brush and cloth.  I dig that kind of optimism.

Johnny Cash takes it a step further by creating a rhythm to the song that sounds like it could actually be coming from that shoe shine boy.  Geniuses do things like that.

North by Blackie & The Rodeo Kings is an alt country tune about riding a train to the north country.  Train songs are almost always good, but what makes this song special for me is how the rhythm sounds like a locomotive.  It is steady and sure, chugging along, made possible by brushes on a snare and some light percussion.  As the song progresses, the brushes give way to a stick, with the rhythm never losing a beat.  Cool stuff.

The rest of the song also grabs my attention.  I really like the gravel vocals and guitars trading textures. They play off each other well with well placed harmonies joining in periodically.

When I listen to this song with eyes closed late at night, I can imagine myself on that northbound train.

Click Here to listen to North on SoundCloud.

Click Here to watch a stripped down acoustic version.