There are some songs that occupy the deepest parts of my brain - that linger there, haunting the edges of my days and teasing the quiet of my nights. This is one of those songs. I don't remember the first time I heard it. It's as if I've just always known it. The chorus slips out of nowhere and I find myself singing along to my inner jukebox, belting it out with all the energy in my soul. "Let the Midnight Special shine it's ever-lovin' light on me!"
The Midnight Special is a traditional folk song believed to have originated among prisoners in the American South. The most commonly accepted story about the song is that it refers to a train that would run past Sugarland Prison in Texas at midnight and should its light fall on a prisoner, that would be an omen that his release was near. The first publication of the song's lyrics were in 1905 when they were printed by Howard Odum. The first commercial recording of it was by Dave "Pistol Pete" Cutrell in 1926. Since then, many different versions of the song have been recorded by many different artists including Creedence Clearwater Revival, Paul McCartney, ABBA, Van Morrison, Big Joe Turner, Eric Clapton, and Buckwheat Zydeco.