I Heard That Lonesome Whistle
Johnny Cash Lyrics


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I was riding Number Nine
Heading south from Caroline
I heard that lonesome whistle blow

Got in trouble, had to roam
Left my gal an' left my home
I heard that lonesome whistle blow
Just a kid, acting smart
I went and broke my darling's heart
I guess I was too young to know

They took me off the Georgia Main
Locked me to a ball and chain
I heard that lonesome whistle blow

All alone, I bear the shame
I'm a number, not a name
I heard that lonesome whistle blow

All I do is sit an' cry
When the evening train goes by
I heard that lonesome whistle blow

I'll be locked here in this cell
'Till my body's just a shell
An' my hair turns whiter than snow

I'll never see that gal of mine




Lord, I'm in Georgia doing time
I heard that lonesome whistle blow

Overall Meaning

The song "I Heard That Lonesome Whistle" by Johnny Cash tells the story of a young man who leaves his girlfriend and home to venture out into the world. However, due to his lack of experience and maturity, he ends up getting into trouble and is locked up in jail. The lonesome whistle represents the passing time and the loneliness of his situation. He regrets his actions and is filled with shame, crying every time the train passes by. The lyrics paint a picture of a man who is coming to terms with the consequences of his actions and is longing for his past life and loved ones.


Through the story told in the song, Cash portrays the universal feeling of regret and the longing for a simpler time. The whistle symbolizes the passage of time and the inevitability of the consequences of one's actions. The song is a reflection of the human condition and the choices we make, leading us to either success or failure.


Overall, "I Heard That Lonesome Whistle" is a powerful song with simple yet impactful lyrics that capture deep emotions of regret and loneliness.


Line by Line Meaning

I was riding Number Nine
I was on a train, specifically Number Nine


Heading south from Caroline
I was traveling southwards from Caroline


I heard that lonesome whistle blow
I heard the train whistle, which sounded lonely and desolate


Got in trouble, had to roam
I got into trouble and had to leave my town


Left my gal an' left my home
I had to leave my girlfriend and my home behind


I heard that lonesome whistle blow
I heard the train whistle again, which reminded me of my situation


Just a kid, acting smart
I was young and foolish, thinking I was smarter than I was


I went and broke my darling's heart
I broke my girlfriend's heart by my actions


I guess I was too young to know
I realize now that I was too young to understand the consequences of my actions


They took me off the Georgia Main
I was arrested and taken away from the main community in Georgia


Locked me to a ball and chain
I was imprisoned and physically restrained


I heard that lonesome whistle blow
Again, I heard the train whistle and it reminded me of my isolation and helpless situation


All alone, I bear the shame
I am alone and feel embarrassed and guilty about what I did


I'm a number, not a name
In prison, I am identified only by a number, not my name


I heard that lonesome whistle blow
I keep hearing the train whistle, which symbolizes my dreary, unchanging existence


All I do is sit an' cry
All I am left with is to sit and cry


When the evening train goes by
When the train passes by in the evening, I hear it and feel even more lonely


I heard that lonesome whistle blow
The train whistle echoes through the prison walls and it is all I can hear


I'll be locked here in this cell
I am trapped and will continue to be locked in this cell


'Till my body's just a shell
I will be locked up until I am a frail shell of a person


An' my hair turns whiter than snow
I will spend so much time imprisoned that my hair will turn white


I'll never see that gal of mine
I will never see my girlfriend again


Lord, I'm in Georgia doing time
I am in Georgia serving my prison sentence


I heard that lonesome whistle blow
The train whistle once again serves to remind me of my loneliness and despair




Lyrics Β© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Peermusic Publishing, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.
Written by: Jimmie Davis, Hank Williams

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Comments from YouTube:

@dyalikedags

I just pray this quality music reaches the kids today...

@arobins74

Just when I thought it couldn't get any "lonesomer" than Hank's version... This is the soundtrack of longing...

@rxramblingrose4857

We still riding Johnny
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@billfranklin9820

Johnny does a great job on all of his music , and has a the greatest voice !

@1bundy11

Proud to be the 90th like! I love Johnny Cash. God bless Johnny Cash!

@danx2234

Johnny Cash is the Legend, and could do any cover, but no one can top Hank Williams Sr, and Johnny would probably vouch for that as well.

@travisstillie3554

You said it brother !!

@jimmyjennings4089

Johnny honering the legend of Mr. Hank Williams Sr. The greatest singer of ballads and the man that coud make a whole circus full of clowns ball thier eyes out.

@davemcg915

One of my faves

@jackfrost2288

I am 70 years old , Love this song. I still play with myself.Β  Make fun, np.

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