Remember Josh Turner’s ‘Long Black Train’ Controversy?
Ten years ago this week, Josh Turner‘s career took off with the release of the ‘Long Black Train’ album his debut on MCA. The video for the title track created some controversy, not within the music industry, but within the locomotive industry, surprisingly.
The American Public Transportation Association, the Association of American Railroads and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers … they were all furious! Turner thought it was silly.
The argument was that by depicting people with troubled lives standing on a train track as a locomotive comes through, Turner’s video would encourage suicidal behavior. The train passes through them in the clip from 2003 — it’s a metaphor for sin and temptation. Overall, the song was an inspiration to the very people who needed it, but some took it literally.
“If you have a brain at all, you know that’s impossible to do,” Turner told Country Standard Time about the idea of a train passing through someone. “(Neither) the song, nor the video, is about a real train. I feel that’s the point they’re missing. It’s a metaphor. They have to see through the surface.”
Despite demands to pull the video from CMT and GAC, ‘Long Black Train’ rolled on, helping the song become a Top 20 hit. It’s still arguably Turner’s best song to date, and definitely one of the best of the decade.