Jimmy Fortune Spirited Cover Of 'Life's Railway To Heaven'

Jimmy Fortune Spirited Cover Of 'Life's Railway To Heaven'

Jimmy Fortune’s spirited cover of “Life’s Railway to Heaven” may tempt you to dance. His version serves up the original recipe with a generous dollop of pep!

Now in the public domain after so many years, “Life’s Railway to Heaven” was written by M. E. Abbey, arranged by Charles D. Tillman, and published in 1890. The song was first released by Edward Allen and Charles Hart in 1918. Dennis Quaid recorded the song in 2023. And dozens of performers have done covers in each of the 11 decades since that original recording, including Patsy Cline, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Wayne Newton, Boxcar Willie, Steven Curtis Chapman and so many more. The song has stood the test of time!

In addition to this performance, 69-year-old Jimmy Fortune recorded the song as a member of The Statler Brothers and with The Oak Ridge Boys. He is joined here by Sheriff Jimmy Capps, a regular on Larry’s Country Diner, and two other musicians. 

At 1:07, Jimmy calls out over the music, “Play me somethin’, Mike.” Mike responds with an impressive guitar solo. At 2:12, he asks the pretty fiddler on his right to do likewise.  

As diner characters go about their activities, the crowd tunes in. Jimmy and crew tap their toes on tempo and sing the old gospel hymn. The song’s lyrics liken life to a train ride. The analogy compares the railroad to life’s twists and turns, the conductor to Jesus, and the train depot to our final destination. Done correctly, that destination is our Heavenly Home. 

Here are four lines from a chorus of “Life’s Railway to Heaven:”

“Watch the curves, the fills, the tunnels;

Never falter, never fail;

Keep your hands upon the throttle,

And your eyes upon the rail.”

Trains are mysterious. We don’t always know what’s in the next car or around the bend in the tracks. But we know one thing for sure. Trains have figured into a lot of great music! 

And for a much more recent spiritual song, check out Josh Turner’s acoustic version of “Long Black Train.” While the train in this one is far darker, the message is an encouragement of faith. 

May this music be a blessing to your day!

“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” Proverbs 4:26 

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