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LISA RYAN (reporting): Josh Turner debuted 'Long Black Train' here at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and the response was unexpected. The audience's reaction to Josh's performance that night was so powerful that it almost overwhelmed him.
(to Josh): I was sitting in the audience the night you debuted, and the crowd was amazing. First time you got a standing ovation. Encore, standing ovation. You almost seemed choked up.
JOSH TURNER: I was choked up, especially the second time I had to sing the song. I really didn't know what to do. I didn't expect that. It was overwhelming.
LISA RYAN: Why do you think people have taken so much to the song 'Long Black Train'?
JOSH TURNER: The subject of temptation and decision-making is something that everybody of all ages can relate to, and the metaphor of it being a train kind of attracts the younger listeners a lot of times and the hard-core country fans. It was unreal to see how many people related it to their own lives, and took it into their lifestyles and into their households and to see how it's affected people in a positive way. I've had several people express to me that the song has actually saved their life. To think that my heart and my words and my music saved somebody's life, it takes a while to just sink in with me. But it proves to me that music is powerful.
LISA RYAN: When did you come to a real knowledge and understanding of God as Lord of your life?
JOSH TURNER: You're going to get me emotional, Lisa. I was about 9 or 10 and me and Daddy were going to take the trash out. This was back before they had all the recycling centers and everything. We lived out in the country, so we had to take the trash down to the dumpsters down the road, which was about a half mile from our house. On the way back, we were in the car and Daddy was driving of course and I was in the passenger seat. About halfway home, I saw this light, this glow and this reflection of this light on the hood of the car. Really caught me by surprise, and I felt something pull me up in the seat to look through the windshield. Up in the sky there was this single cloud hanging above the branch back behind our house and on the cloud was this lighted figure of this man standing there with his arms stretched out.
LISA RYAN: You're kidding.
JOSH TURNER: Being the young boy that I was, I didn't quite understand that, but I knew who it was. All of a sudden, I felt something pull my body back into the seat, and I saw the light go away from the hood. I wanted to tell Daddy so bad.
LISA RYAN: Did he see any of this?
JOSH TURNER: He didn't see anything.
LISA RYAN: So, you had a vision from God.
JOSH TURNER: Yeah, and I wanted to tell him so bad, but I could not speak. The words just would not come out of my mouth. When I got home that night, I ran out to our barn and I got a piece of paper and pencil and I drew it so I wouldn't forget what I saw. It took a while after that for me to actually find the courage to tell somebody because I thought people were going to think I was crazy. And some people did think I was crazy. I finally got to the point where I shared it in a testimony at church, and the word had gotten out and it spread to my high school and people found out about it, and they started calling me the 'Jesus Boy' and all this kind of stuff, making fun of me.
But that moment in my life has helped me understand that there is a God. I don't care who tells me there's not a God. I know for a fact what I saw that night. It has impacted me tremendously in a lot of situations, especially in this career where I come in contact with all kinds of people. A lot of times that's my rock. That's what I rely on and God's Word and my upbringing and moments in my life like that.
Look at 'Long Black Train.' It came from a vision I had. I was a student over at Belmont University. This was back in 1999. When I walked out of the library, I noticed there was something unusually dark about this night. About halfway home I had this vision come to me of this wide open space way out in the plains somewhere and there was this train track running right down the middle of this wide open space and from out of the darkness came roaring down the track this long, black, beautiful, shiny train. I could see people standing out to the side of this track watching this train go by, and as I was walking, I kept asking myself, What is the deal with this train? What does this vision mean? It dawned on me that these people were caught up in the decision of whether or not to get on this train because this train was a physical metaphor for temptation.
LISA RYAN: After this incredible experience as a child and this experience really seeing the presence of God, did you ever go through a rebellious time, a rowdy time, a time when you questioned things?
JOSH TURNER: I think everybody does. I didn't rebel in the way a lot of people do. I didn't go out and have pre-marital sex. I've never had a drink of alcohol in my life. I've never smoked a cigarette. That's not to say I'm perfect. I'm not. I'm a sinner just like everybody else and I have my faults and I've been through my dark times in my life to where I wasn't walking the walk and talking the talk, or I may have been talking the talk, but I wasn't walking the walk. The most crucial part of that time in my life was along the time that I was writing 'Long Black Train.' I said, 'What's important in my life and what am I here for and what am I supposed to do with my life?' 'Long Black Train' kind of helped make that clear.
LISA RYAN: You are definitely a country artist, but one listen through your CD, your music is definitely infused with your faith. Is that intentional? Is it just a reflection of the man?
JOSH TURNER: It's just a reflection of me. The beautiful thing about country music is that it allows you to sing about all kinds of things, including your faith. I think there's been so many great secular songs in country music that have made a huge difference in people's lives. With my songs, I try to find songs that fit my voice and fit my heart and fit what I'm trying to say.
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