One Piece At A Time
This is probably not one of Johnny Cash’s best-known songs.
Still, it did hit number one on the Country charts. In the U.S. and Canada. It was also a hit on top forty radio. In the U.S. and the U.K.
I’ve talked before about getting messages from songs, and for this one, it seems like the message should be something about embezzling.
If you aren’t familiar with this song, it’s a story of a man who goes to work in a car manufacturing plant, and decides to steal a car by bring it home “one piece at a time”.
So it does seem like the message of it should be about stealing, doesn’t it?
The thing I’ve found about music is that it’s very subjective, and songs can mean different things to different people, depending on a wide variety of factors. And many of those factors could have absolutely nothing to do with anything the songwriter or performer intended.
And this song, for me, is a perfect example of that.
For me, this song evokes family, specifically my parents.
This song was a hit in the Spring of 1976. I was ten.
The simple memory this song evokes is of me, sitting in the car with my Dad, while we waited for my mom to come out of the store. Which store? Doesn’t matter. Could have been the grocery store. Could have been the drug store. Could have been a department store.
But that was kind of our ritual.
We’d head out to whatever store we were going to. Sometimes my older brother and sister would go in with my Mom, but I stayed in the car with my Dad (and sometimes my little sister). And we would listen to the radio.
CB songs were big at the time, and we’d scan the dial looking for someone playing “Convoy” or “White Knight”. And we would often find this Johnny Cash tune. And there was just something about novelty songs, especially for a boy of ten, that brought me so much joy.
So, for me, this song just brings back a happy memory of spending time with my family. There was no monumental event that it evokes. Just a weekly voyage to the A & P or Rose’s.
If this song popped in my head and I thought it was a message for anyone else, I would have to suggest simply reaching out to a family member or a friend, someone you might not have talked to recently, and share a few kind words and a laugh.
And don't get caught up in that need so many seem to have where everything has to be absolutely perfect. You can make wonderful, long-lasting memories with those you love in the simplest of ways - just by being yourself. And by doing something as easy as turning on the radio.
But also, don’t steal.
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Ken Kessler has always been interested in psychic phenomena, and like Mulder on the X-Files, wants to believe. But like most, he tends to look for, and accept, rational explanations. (More)