Before dying in 2003, the Man in Black wrote one last masterpiece for generations to come – and it utilized one of his favorite subjects: trains. Johnny Cash’s last song, “Like the 309,” will take you on a bumpy train ride to one’s final destination.
Despite being wheelchair-bound, nearly blind, and close to the end, Johnny Cash continued writing music and singing. In fact, he began working on “American V: A Hundred Highways” right after completing 2002’s “American IV: The Man Comes Around.”
The posthumously released album is an evenly melancholy mix of covers, traditional, and original compositions. “Like the 309” is among the two original songs included on it. The second one was “I Came to Believe,” which Cash had written and recorded ahead.
Unlike most of his train songs, the verse of “Like the 309” goes through Cash’s death. He sounded weathered while making references to the sound of a railroad train and whistle blows being the signal for his eternal rest.
This is perhaps because, in addition to battling ill health, Cash was also mourning for the death of his wife, June Carter Cash. He said that if he would not keep himself occupied, he would be joining her soon enough. So, the iconic country singer got to work and recorded thirty songs within four months.
“These songs are Johnny’s final statement,” producer Rick Rubin said, adding that they are the most precise reflection of the music that was the primary part of Cash’s life then. “This is the music that Johnny wanted us to hear.”
“Like the 309” was posthumously released in 2006, three years after the music legend’s death. It was Johnny Cash’s last song in his career that spans five decades.