Johnny Cash - Hey, Porter

First performance: 20/09/1978


Bruce soundchecked the song only once:
1978-09-20 Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ 
During a fascinating soundcheck, taped from outside the venue before the show. In the middle of a three-night stand at the Capitol, Bruce works through several Hank Williams and other classics .
Covers Soundcheck:


"Hey, Porter" is a song by Johnny Cash. It was recorded on September 1, 1954 and released as a single in May the following year. It tells the story of a train journey home to Tennessee, from the point of view of a very excited passenger that continually asks the porter for updates. 'Hey Porter' is Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two's first recording; John wrote the song with band mates Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant after Sam Phillips (Owner of Sun Records) turned down "I Was There When It Happened", the song John, Luther and Marshall auditioned with. The reasoning behind Phillip's decision was that "Sam didn't want a gospel song, he wanted a fast song," like Elvis Presley's "That's All right". Having been stationed in Landsberg, Germany, during his stint with the United States Air Force, Cash based the song on a man returning home from overseas who felt elated to be returning to his native South. "Hey Porter" was the first of many rail-themed songs that Cash would record during his career, and was soon followed by "Folsom Prison Blues", another rail-themed track. 

Other cover versions

Bruce on the artist

When Johnny Cash died on Sept. 12, 2003, while Springsteen was on the rising tour, for the next two nights, Bruce opened with a solo acoustic take of "I Walk the Line."
On april 6th 1999 Bruce was announced as a performer at the All Star Tribute To Johnny Cash at Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan, NY, but his travel schedule prevented him from attending the event – he and the E Street Band were in Italy that night for The Reunion Tour. Instead, pre-taped video footage of him performing Johnny Cash's ' Give my love to Rose', accompanied only by his acoustic guitar, was played on a screen over the stage during the Johnny Cash tribute concert. The rendition was recorded on 12 Feb 1999 at Thrill Hill East, Springsteen's home studio in Rumson, NJ. The song was recorded by Toby Scott and produced by Springsteen, but the identity of film director remains unknown. The concert was aired on the TNT television network at 8:00 PM on 18 Apr 1999.
Intro to the tibute song :
To Johnny I wanna send out a big thanks for the inspiration. He kinda took the social consciousness from folk music and the gravity and humor from country music and the rebellion out of Rock and Roll and uh... and taught all those young guys that not only was it all right to, to tear up all those lines and boundaries a bit was important. And uh... this is a song I love from the early recordings for a long time, I hope you like it. 

The audio of Bruce Springsteen's studio version of Give my love to Rose was officially released on Kindred Spirits: A Tribute To The Songs Of Johnny Cash, a various artists album released in September 2002 on the Lucky Dog label.
However, though it appears identical, the recording released on the tribute album is different from the one broadcast on television – at least the vocal track is different from the first chorus onward. According to the tribute album's credits, the audio was recorded and mixed by Thom Cadley at Sony Music Studios in New York City, NY. Brian Vibberts assisted in recording and Dawn Rheinholz assisted in mixing. At first, the plan was to release a live album and an accompanying video of the 1999 tribute concert to Johnny Cash, but, as Sony Nashville senior VP of sales Dale libbey told Billboard, "the album and video releases of the concert have been frozen in label disagreements over royalties and won't see daylight anytime soon." As a result, only Springsteen's and Bob Dylan's performances form the tribute concert were included on the Kindred Spirits: A Tribute To The Songs Of Johnny Cash album.
The admiration of Johnny Cash to Bruce was mutual. Cash recorded some of Bruce’s songs :


Hey, Porter
Hey Porter
Would you tell me the time?
How much longer will it be
'Til we cross that Mason Dixon Line?
At daylight would you tell that engineer to slow it down
Or better still, just stop the train
'Cause I want to look around
Hey, Porter
Hey, Porter
What time did you say?
How much longer will it be
'Til I can see the light of day?
When we hit Dixie will you tell that engineer to ring his bell
And ask everybody that ain't asleep to stand right up and yell
Hey, Porter
Hey, Porter
It's getting light outside
This old train is puffin' smoke and I have to strain my eyes
But ask that engineer if he will blow his whistle please
'Cause I smell frost on cotton leaves
And I feel that Southern breeze
Hey, Porter
Hey, Porter
Please get my bags for me
I need nobody to tell me now that we're in Tennessee
Go tell that engineer to make that lonesome whistle scream
We're not so far from home so take it easy on the steam
Hey, Porter
Hey, Porter
Please open up the door
When they stop this train I'm gonna get off first
'Cause I can't wait no more
Tell that engineer I say,
Thanks a lot and I didn't mind the fare
I'm gonna set my feet on Southern soil
And breathe that Southern air