Gut Rumbles

August 24, 2003

train songs

I always figured that you couldn't be a musician unless you knew AT LEAST five train songs. I learned these right away, and I still believe that they are EXCELLENT train songs.

#1: Folsom Prison Blues

#2: The Wreck of Old 97

#3: City Of New Orleans

#4: Orange Blossom Special

#5: Canadian Railroad Trilogy

If you know any better train songs, let me know.

("Rainy Night In Georgia" would qualify, but it's not reallly a train song.)


My favorite train song is Neil Young's "Southern Pacific":

Down the mountainside
To the coastline
Past the angry tide
The mighty diesel whines

And the tunnel comes
And the tunnel goes
Around another bend
The giant drivers roll

I rode the highball
I fired the Daylight
When I turned 65
I couldn't see right

It was, "Mr. Jones
We've got to let you go
It's company policy
You've got a pension though."

Roll on
Southern Pacific
Roll on
On your silver rails
Roll on
Southern Pacific
On your silver rails
Through the moonlight

Also, regarding your post on the Acidman presidential platform, what is your policy regarding cats?

The Neil Young- trainsong-cats thread is completed by bringing it to your attention that there is a cat killing on Young's new album. An FBI agent gets scratched on the leg by a cat while tossing the apartment of one of the main characters (Sun Green, who later marries "Earth Brown"). The agent shoots the cat and leaves it "in a pool of blood at the foot of Sun Green's bed".

You have my vote for the White House as long cats are banned from it and I get invited to the drunken parties

Posted by: Rick Stinson on August 24, 2003 09:34 AM

Don't forget David Alan Coe's "You Don't Have to Call Me Darlin', Darlin'", which contains what some consider the finest lyric in C&W music: the "Perfect Country Western song." In one lyric there are references to Mom, trains, pick-up trucks, prison, and gettin' drunk!

I was drunk the day my Ma got out of prison
So I went to pick her up in the rain
By the time I could get to the station in my pick-up truck
She got run over by a damned ol' train

Posted by: Ernie G on August 24, 2003 10:27 AM

Joan Baez's City of New Orleans is Kroger muzak now. So much for songs of rebellion.

Posted by: Ron Hardin on August 24, 2003 10:35 AM

Steve Goodman can take credit for penning two of those: "City of New Orleans" *and* the made-famous-by-Coe "You Never Even Call Me By My Name."
I'd have "Waiting for a Train," by the great singing brakeman Jimmie Rodgers, in there myself.
All around the water tank,
Waiting for a train
A thousand miles away from home
Sleeping in the rain...

Posted by: David Hines on August 24, 2003 10:50 AM

Gladys Knight and the Pips- "Midnight Train to Georgia"

Doobie Brothers- "Long Train Running"

Posted by: David Paglia on August 24, 2003 11:13 AM

I wouldn't say any of these are necessarily better, but here's a few

Kansas City Southern - Pure Prairie League
Just Like This Train - Joni Mitchell
Last Train For Glory - Arlo Guthrie
Boxcar's My Home - Willie Nelson
Let The Train Whisle Blow - Johnny Cash
Love Train - O'Jay's
Casey Jones - Grateful Dead
Big Freight Train Carry Me Home - Boxcar Willie

Posted by: Marcl on August 24, 2003 11:27 AM

geez...i cant believe no one came up with

"train kept a rollin" by aerosmith and a bunch of others including little jeffy beck

Posted by: mr. helpful on August 24, 2003 11:48 AM

and how about "driver 8" by REM?

cant believe i almost forgot that one myself

Posted by: mr. helpful on August 24, 2003 11:50 AM

"Rainy Night in Georgia" should hold an honorary place anyway. Especially, since we have had a hell of a lot of rainy nights (and days) in Georgia of late.

Plus it's a damn beautiful song that speaks straight thru one's soul!

Posted by: Laura on August 24, 2003 12:36 PM

How about 'Wabash Cannonball'.
and does anyone remember one called 'Grand Canyon Line'. The only time I remember hearing it was back in the '60s. Burl Ives sang it, I think.

Posted by: Shirley on August 24, 2003 02:16 PM

Well, forgive me for suggesting a "chick" song in here, but I just love "Midnight Train to Georgia." I mean, it's got a train in the dang title, does that count?

Posted by: joan varga on August 24, 2003 02:42 PM

Hard to believe that no one has mentioned "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" ... The Band's version -- I always had a hard time believing Joan Baez when she'd sing 'Virgil Caine is my name..."

Posted by: Marianne on August 24, 2003 03:49 PM

Johnny Cash just plain rocks. One of my favorites, by far.

I also recommend "Casey Jones", but the version done by Cash.

Posted by: Mr. Lion on August 24, 2003 03:55 PM

How about the version of Casey Jones by the Grateful Dead?

Drivin' that train, high on cocaine,
Casey Jones you'd better watch your speed...

Posted by: Ernie G on August 24, 2003 04:18 PM

Locomotive Breath by Jethro Tull

Posted by: DocJeff on August 24, 2003 04:52 PM

Joan- already got ya covered. Scroll up.

Posted by: David Paglia on August 24, 2003 05:17 PM

Rock Island Line's a goodun no one's mentioned.

Orange Blossom Special and Wabash Cannonball may be my faves. OK, OK, D A Coe's is high on my list, too. Anyone remember Dizzy Dean singing Wabash on the Game (Saturday baseball) of the Week, every week?

Posted by: Larry on August 24, 2003 08:32 PM

Blue Train by Linda Ronstadt on her album Feels Like Home. As haunting and sad as her voice.

Posted by: joy on August 24, 2003 09:00 PM

"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"-Hank Williams Sr.

Posted by: Larry on August 24, 2003 09:04 PM

Heathens..has everyone forgotten Chattanooga Choo Choo? Well pardon me boys.

Posted by: bob in the hills on August 24, 2003 10:02 PM

Wabash Cannonball.......

Posted by: JIm on August 24, 2003 10:44 PM

If you like trains, you gotta check this site out:

Posted by: jim on August 24, 2003 10:55 PM

No "Midnight Train to Georgia" Oh wait you're already there. Nevermind.

Posted by: Melissa on August 24, 2003 11:03 PM

How about "Like Desparados Waitin on a Train" Johnny, Willy,and Waylon?

Posted by: Rey on August 24, 2003 11:32 PM

All around the water tank - Jimmy Rodgers

Mystery Train - Elvis (with Scotty & Bill)

Posted by: Bill C on August 24, 2003 11:36 PM

I like David Hines' submission. One of my favorite songs!

I think we went through this list last year....
Choo Choo Ch'boogie
Freight Train Boogie
Steel Rails
Atchison Topeka And The Santa Fe
Old Train
Daddy What's A Train?
Last Hobo

The Last Hobo is one that touches me and can reduce me to tears at times.

Posted by: Da Goddess on August 25, 2003 12:11 AM

"Train,train" By Blackfoot
"Tuesday's Gone" Lynyrd Skynyrd
"Interstate Love Song" Stone Temple Pilots

Posted by: daneBramage on August 25, 2003 12:16 AM

Definitely have to agree with "Waiting for a Train" by Jimmie Rodgers as being a kick ASS train song.....not too hard to play on guitar either

Posted by: Eric on August 25, 2003 06:35 AM

Now listen to the jingle
The rumble and the roar
As she glides along the woodlands
Through the hills and by the shore
Hear the mighty rush of the engine
Hear that lonesome hobo squall
As he travels through the jungles on
The Wabash Cannonball

Rob, I can't believe that's not on your list.

Posted by: McGehee on August 25, 2003 06:53 AM

"Me and Bobby McGee" has a line about a train, right there at the beginning...

Posted by: McGehee on August 25, 2003 06:55 AM

I'm surprised that, among rock-n-roll train songs, no one has mentioned Adrian Belew's "The Rail Song". Excellent guitar work and lyrics:

I recall as a boy we would hop the freights
wasn't nothin' but a kick back then
there was no better thrill for my anxious heart
than a long flatcar
headin' out of the yard
and I knew even then she was in my blood
like the time when I first hired on
and the fireman laughed at my bony nose
but he tossed me a cap
said GM&O
and I was a man...

I gave her my best years
well, what can you do but laugh
I don't expect she'll ever be coming back

When we climbed up the great Appalachians
her engines would be raging like hell
then we'd come back down to the rising towns
where the cattle stare
in the frozen air
For me there nothing more sacred
than the beautiful sound she'd make
her long blue signal blowin' deep in the night,
it would get to me there,
it would get to me there
Now I'm afraid...

Afraid of these silent hours
awake underneath my old cap
I don't expect she'll ever be coming back

Well, I watched the beginning of the end for her
when I saw my first jet airplane
flying high overhead like a bird of prey
while the mighty fell
in the land of the brave
Now I'm alone.

Posted by: bentpyramid on August 25, 2003 08:20 AM

I am shocked! Shocked I tell you! has anyone hear ever heard of a band called Blackfoot? Their singer, Rick Medlocke, son of Shorty Medlock, started out as a singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd....
Anyway, they had a tune on their Blackfoot Strikes album (yes, album - 8-track too) called Train Train. It featured Shorty on harp.
There's a Canadian act name o' Taj Mahal that had a tune about a train - can't remember the tilte, but the verse starts off with, "She caught the katey & left me a mule to ride..." The 'katey' (sp?) is a train or so I'm told.
& since we spoke briefly of Skynyrd, how about Tuesday's Gone With the Wind? damn if that ain't a train song, & the progression is quite elequont for a tune that sounds so simple. Plus the orchestration always seemd 'just right' for the feeling they were going for.
& speaking of Southern rock bands, y'all ever hear of Marshall Tucker? They had a nice little ditty called "Can't Ya See".

ah, but probably the most endearing tune about trains (at least for me) was written by this fellow in Charleston, SC around 1929. I knew the tune well when i was younger cause my grandpa would sing it quite often.

I believe it's called "I'm Feeling Blue" but it might be "The Sun's Gonna Shine Through My Door Someday"

A simple blues progression: E - B - E - A - E -B - E - E - repeat
The lyrics (best I can remember)

" I'm feelin' blue , but I won't be blue always - cause the sun's gon shine through my door somedays

I'm gon lay my head, down on the railroad tie - let the 4:15 ease my worried mind

Said I'm feelin' blue, but I won't be blue no mo' - cause the sun's gon shine through my back door"

& honorable mention would go to Steve Vai & Rye Cooder for their work in the movie Crossraods (no, not the Britney Spears flick). wanna talk about trains in music? then fats forward to the head cutters duel scene.

Posted by: Publicola on August 25, 2003 08:31 AM

I gotta nominate Steve Earle's "Texas Eagle." Absolutely great song. The man's politics give me the hives, but the song's damn near perfect.

Posted by: J.BOY DELUXE on August 25, 2003 09:34 AM

Y'all forgot one of the best: "Drivin' Wheel" by Tom Rush.

Posted by: rivlax on August 25, 2003 12:14 PM

How about:

The Monkey and the Engineer by the Grateful Dead?

Posted by: Daepp on August 25, 2003 12:22 PM

"Midnight Special" by Huddie Ledbetter. A train song AND a jail song.

Posted by: Phil on August 25, 2003 12:26 PM

Bejus! I can't believe I left "Wabash Cannonball" off the list and I can't believe that anyone else ever heard of Tom Rush singing "Driving Wheel."

Can't say much in a phone call, baby
Well, you know how it is
I need to tell you one short thing
Won't you listen to this?
Just called to tell you that I love you
Just called to tell you how I feel.

I feel like some old engine
Done lost my drivin' wheel"

Posted by: Acidman on August 25, 2003 05:58 PM

One of my very favorite songs, period, especially when performed by Kevin Welch...

The Train to Birmingham (John Hiatt)

Iím ridiní on this train, drinkiní whisky for the pain
just another good old boy headiní home
and every town I see seems to take a part of me
thatís the price that you pay when you roam

I got holes in both my shoes, and a guitar full of blues
and a one-way ticket for my remedy
itís the same old lonesome song Iíve been singiní all night long
hey Porter, are we out of Tennessee?

Every year I ride this train, to Alabama in the rain
when I get that lonesome feeliní in my bones
I never get to Birmingham, but gettiní there ainít the plan
I just like the feel of goiní home

Oh yes, I cry when I have to, and I lie when I can
but Iíll die a little slower,on the train to Birmingham

Posted by: sulizano on August 26, 2003 06:43 PM

Big Rock Candy Mountains

It probably doesn't qualify as a 'train song' as it is not primarily about trains, but it does mention trains. Besides, I love that song and now I'll have it stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

"In the Big Rock Candy Mountains you never change your socks
And the little streams of alcohol come a-trickling down the rocks
The brakemen have to tip their hats and the railroad bulls are blind
There's a lake of stew and of whiskey too
You can paddle all around 'em in a big canoe
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains"

Posted by: Heather on August 27, 2003 10:00 AM

Our band, "Blank Slate", performs a more obscure song, entitled LAST TRAIN FROM POOR VALLEY, written by June Carter Cash and performed in the past by Norman Blake.

Posted by: bkpuckett on September 29, 2003 01:50 PM

how about heartbreak station by cinderella i know they are heavy metal but this song really kicks butt and how about crazytrain by ozzy osbourne

Posted by: irock4u756 on September 29, 2003 11:53 PM

I remember a great Phil Harris song that begins:

That big eight-wheeler comin' down the track
Means that your lovin' daddy ain't a-comin' back

-- hence, a train song! And a great one at that.

Posted by: Wally Parker on October 30, 2003 01:36 AM

My goodness, we'd certainly have to include Johnny Cash's "Hey, Porter" and "Train of Love." And how about "In the Pines," too?

The longest train I ever saw,
Rolled down that Georgia line.
Engine passed at six o'clock,
Caboose rolled by at nine.

"Hobo Bill's Last Ride" deserves to be in there somewhere, too.

Posted by: JMBarker on November 1, 2003 08:26 AM

I'd like to nominate songs by the best band ever, Little Feat. Red Streamliner (Featuring Doobie Brothers backing vocals), New Dehli Freight Train (apparently originally done by Terry Allen), Two Trains (the trains are actually metaphores, but hey), Lafayette Railroad (no lyrics), Lonesome Whistle (Hank Williams/Jimmie Davis cover), Loco Motives "steel wheel's singin' such a lonesome song, engines whinin' been gone too long"

Posted by: Patsy on November 7, 2003 05:08 PM

I hate to upset all the David Allen Coe and Cash fans , but how about Leeann Rimes with "One Way Ticket (Because I Can)." It may not be specifically about a train but it definately has " train" in its lyrics. You know-- I've got a one way ticket on a west bound train. To see how far I can go.---or something like that. Also--Hurt Train by Brooks and Dunn. "Ridin on a hurt train. mmm-makin tracks. Riding on a hurt train,ain't no turning back. 100 tons of cold steel rusting in the rain. Singin of the rolling wheels callin out her name. Whistle keeps blowing that high and lonesome sound.

Posted by: Nancy on November 10, 2003 10:41 PM

I hate to upset all the David Allen Coe and Cash fans , but how about Leeann Rimes with "One Way Ticket (Because I Can)." It may not be specifically about a train but it definately has " train" in its lyrics. You know-- I've got a one way ticket on a west bound train. To see how far I can go.---or something like that. Also--Hurt Train by Brooks and Dunn. "Ridin on a hurt train. mmm-makin tracks. Riding on a hurt train,ain't no turning back. 100 tons of cold steel rusting in the rain. Singin of the rolling wheels callin out her name. Whistle keeps blowing that high and lonesome sound.

Posted by: Nancy on November 10, 2003 10:41 PM

myself and john newbraugh[of nbt records wva] who has 14 of my new songs on ascap . titles; ghost train/the train ride/the heavenly railroad/hobos and gods train/my ohio blues/the last two are an autobiography of my life in ohio and wva[1946era] my songs have whistles too. [e mail me asap]
Rex Foutch & Rex West

Posted by: Rex Foutch on December 24, 2003 10:54 AM

people get ready - curtis mayfield
i'm a train - albert hammond
hobo's lulluby - guthrie
love train - o jay's
stop that train - marley
locomotion - little eva/grand funk
mean old frisco - john hammond
ridin' on the L & M - john mayall
land of hopes and dreams - springsteen

Posted by: vito tucci on January 23, 2004 01:13 PM