“Driving that train, high on cocaine. Casey Jones, you’d better watch your speed. Trouble ahead, trouble behind, and you know that notion just crossed my mind.”
Those were the words I was singing one day while passing through Mom’d living room. She was busy cleaning. Mom did – and does – have a spotless house. I was fourteen or fifteen, with long hair that irritated Mom and Dad, and a faint mustache and goatee that annoyed my school and coaches. Mom said, “What are you singing?”
I stopped and grew still, as children often do when suddenly challenged by an adult about something that seems obvious. “Singing “Casey Jones.””
“But what were you singing?”
“I don’t know.”
Yes, claim amnesia whenever possible. Mom didn’t look happy but, after waiting for follow-up questions, I discreetly scurried away. Later, I concluded, it must have been the cocaine part, right? I chuckled about that.
Mom and Dad were divorced, and still later, while at Dad’s place, I was walking through his living room, singing…you know it.
“What are you singing?” he asked.
Having been through this questioning and being older, I skipped ahead to the lyrics instead of providing the title. After hearing them, he shook his head. Smiling, I moved on.
Here it is, as performed by the Grateful Dead, “Casey Jones,” from nineteen seventy.