I Don’t Know Where I’m Going But I’m On My Way
Let’s go back to the 1800s. Back to when saloons and shootouts were common, the Wild West was at its peak, and the railroad ruled the nation. Picture yourself out in the country, watching one of the steam engines rolling by, pulling dozens of coal cars behind it. The soundtrack to this scene would be Murry Hammond’s I Don’t Know Where I’m Going But I’m On My Way.
Each track on the 17-song album is either a spiritual (like the quietly contemplative “What Are They Doing in Heaven Tonight?”), or a train song (like “Life is Like a Mountain Railroad” or the one-minute spoken word “Between the Switches”).
American roots influence is all over this record as only acoustic instruments were used throughout the album. “I Will Never Marry” is a heartbreaking song about a woman who “plunged her fair body in the waters so deep / She closed her blue eyes in the waters to sleep.” The harmonium pump-organ is the only instrument used as Hammond ominously predicts that “The shells in the ocean shall be my death bed / The fish in the deep water swim over my head.”
Not every song is that depressing. “Next Time Take the Train” is a more upbeat song about the freedom of moving on by riding the train and “Move your one belonging down the line.”
Not just the songs, but even the packaging is a trip back in time. A cardboard cover includes not only the lyrics, but several pictures from that time of people standing on the back of the train with signs that say, “Going some but have’nt [sic] reached the limit” and “Don’t care if I never come back” along with the title of the album.
I Don’t Know Where I’m Going But I’m On My Way is an acoustically simple debut record from the co-front man of the Old 97s. Throw in that all proceeds go to Project Mercy (a fund to build houses in the poorest sections of Tijuana, Mexico), and you have just one more reason to buy and listen to this album. Sit back, close your eyes, and take a trip back in time with Murry Hammond.