Train Songs

I decided to make another run at a topical playlist, this time with trains as a common theme. This is by no means an exhaustive list, Wikipedia, the lazy man’s reference, has a more exhaustive list. This list isn’t any particular order, The Kingston Trio made it by virtue of the fact that their latest album (at the time) contained the MTA song. Since they only had three albums it got a lot of play time.

Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald, Take the A Train I’m not sure it is possible to call a set of music “train songs” without including “Take the A Train,” when you put Ellington and Fitzgerald together, it doesn’t matter what follows. They can stand against all comers.

Steve Goodman, City of New Orleans Your first reaction is probably going to be, you got it wrong, that is Arlo Guthrie’s song. Nope, Steve Goodman wrote it. This might not be the best version, but give the man his due.

The Band,  “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” The next two are by The Band and the only thing to argue is the sequence. Prior to becoming Dylan’s electric band, The Band worked with Paul Butterfield. Chances are “Mystery Train” preceded “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” It was written after the Dylan tour, during their hiatus in Woodstock, NY and the official creation of the Band. “Music From Big Pink” The Band’s first album turned rock and roll on its ear. Eric Clapton considered running away from home to join The Band.

The Band, Paul Butterfield,”Mystery Train,” I decided to stick with The Band timeline, so the performance is from “The Last Waltz,” the farewell tour documented by Martin Scorsese.

Written by Steve Goodman, performed by David Allen Coe, “You Never Even Called Me By Name” Another double up, Steve Goodman wrote it, but David Allen Coe performed it. It’s a train song by virtue of the last verse, suggested, according to the song, by Coe.

Gordon Lightfoot, “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” Right time, right place. I can take or leave Gordon Lightfoot and that is my loss. Unfortunately, the first few times I heard a Gordon Lightfoot song it was the same one, “Canadian Railroad Trilogy.” WOW. This is the ultimate performance of the best train song ever written. The song was commissioned by the Candian Railroad. It was for the Centennial of the trans-Canada railway.  I compare everything else that Gordon Lightfoot has ever done to his performance of the Canadian Railroad Trilogy and all I hear is “Rubber Ducky.”

It’s not all cops and robbers, politicos and whores. Occasionally I have time for culture; both kinds: Petrie (dish) and popular.