SNL Transcripts: Johnny Cash: 04/17/82: The Train Poet


 Saturday Night Live Transcripts

  Season 7: Episode 17

81q: Johnny Cash / Elton John

The Train Poet

Passenger…..Brian Doyle-Murray
Poet…..Johnny Cash
Conductor…..Tony Rosato

[FADE IN on an Amtrak commuter train pulling away from a platform. FADE to inside the train, where a passenger enters a crowded car as video of passing cityscapes zooms by in the windows. Wearing a blue suit and carrying a briefcase, he makes his way up the aisle and presses his hand on an empty seat for balance. In the next seat, a man in a gray suit pats the empty seat cushion, and the passenger collapses with a sigh. The other man glances down at his newspaper while the blue-suited passenger checks his watch.]

Passenger: Excuse me, my watch stopped. Is this the 7:45?

Poet: [stares at him] This is the 7:58, the Direct Express. This is the finest train I’ve ever known.

[The passenger nods politely and opens his newspaper.]

Poet: [points to himself] I’m a man who LIKES the train. The romance of the railroad that opened up the plains. I love riding through the city with the pretty countryside outside, With captains of industry and general managers, executive officers, and their chief counsels. And the force that forces sales predicted by the prophets That generate the energy that turns the wheel that moves the train.

[points to himself and grins] And that moves ME.

I mean… twice a day.
All week long.
Listen to the wheels, my friend, Just pick up speed when we come around this bend.
The, the telephone poles get closer together.
And the train, and you, and I,
We all find the same rhythm.

[Again, the passenger only gives a curt nod and tries to concentrate on his newspaper.]

Poet: And the open spaces:
They become more suburban.
School buses, bicycles, greeting the day.
[leans toward him] All into the city, clickety-clack, clickety-clack.


Poet: Taller buildings by the track,
And the faces briefly seen,
Look back through the back windows of our lives.
We rock, and we ride together, you and I,
Neither here nor there,
Then under the tunnel, and under the streets,
And the final feet of iron,
[pounds chest] Where the heart beats.
People gather by the door,
And there’s a sense of expectation…

[The window footage suddenly turns to dark brick walls.]

Poet: And then you hear the words:

Conductor: [entering car] Grand Central Station! Grand Central Station… [The steward exits down the aisle as the other passengers stand up to detrain.]

Passenger: Yeah, well, uh… end of the line. Time to get off, time to go to work.

Poet: Well, I’m afraid not, my friend.
[points to himself] I’m a man who likes the train.

[soft Muzak rises]

Poet: I’ll take the train to Frisco,
Or up to Montreal.
I’ll take the train to Houston,
Or I’ll take it to Saint Paul.
But like my father told me
Just before he died,
If you take the train to work,
You won’t enjoy the ride.

[He nods and gestures to him.]

Poet: Have a nice day.

[Applause as the passenger briskly walks away to disembark and the poet starts off in the other direction. Instead of leaving, the poet merely sits down in the next seat and reopens his newspaper. FADE to black.]

Submitted by: Sean

SNL Transcripts

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Author: Don Roy King

Don Roy King has directed fourteen seasons of Saturday Night Live. That work has earned him ten Emmys and fourteen nominations. Additionally, he has been nominated for fifteen DGA Awards and won in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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Maggy Graham
Maggy Graham
1 month ago

Thank you. But … who was it that WROTE the Train Poet sketch? Here it is 2023 and we’re getting a kick out of this. And we want to know … who wrote it?

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