May 10, National Train Day.
Hugged a conductor lately? Never mind, that one didn’t work. Probably the longest running, most neglected infrastructure left from over from our modern world, certainly around here, and I’m not commuting via rail anymore. But I like the idea.
Petticoat Junction (Flatt & Scruggs)
Johnny Cash’s Orange Blossom Special
Jimi Hendrix’s Hear My Train A-Coming
Terry Allen’s New Delhi Freight Train
Rank and File’s The Conductor Wore Black
Ozzy! Crazy Train
Monkees’ Last Train to Clarksville
The Derailers’ Can’t Stop a Train
Blackfoot’s Train, Train
Layo & Bushwacka! Ride the Train
Bad Company Bad Company
Allman Brothers’ Midnight Rider
The Eagles’ Midnight Flyer
New Riders of the Purple Sage’s Glendale Train
Grateful Dead’s Casey Jones
Bananrama’s Long Train Running
Ozark Mountain Daredevils’ Chicken Train Stomp
Of the songs in that playlist, the last two are most important. Although, that can be argued a number of ways, I’d stick with it being those last two. A one-hit wonder from the 1980’s disco scene then reaching much further back, crossover music that was light years ahead of its time, combining electronic with country.
There’s several memories buried in the play list, watching the Derailers saw through a set, back when they were the Derailers and when they were one of those hardworking bands from Austin. New Riders of the Purple Sage, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, from back in the day? That, too. I did spend half a decade or more riding around Texas on the rail lines. To this day, I threaten to do so again, it’s just the plane ticket and the rail ticket cost about the same, and while the rail seats are much nicer, with a half-dozen bathrooms for every 30 seats or so, it’s not nearly as efficient from a business-travel point-of-view: 12 hours or less than 1 hour?
“Long Train Running” is a Doobie Brothers’ song, classic in its own right, but a lovingly rendered cover song, in a slightly skewed format, makes it that much more fun. Hits high points more than one way.
I’m not sure why that stuck with me for so many years, the harmonica on “Train, train,” echos the tune, but that could be said about half the songs. Ozark Mountain Daredevils, “Chicken Train Stomp.” Misspent youth? Hard to reconcile that with current experiences, or, for that matter, call it misspent. Fiddle, harmonica, Jew’s Harp (jaw harp), simple percussion and vocals that eerily presage current trends in electronic music. Yet old school hippies doing old school “americana” music. Before there was such a thing.
The goal of the playlist, a lot of time and research went into this, the better part of several days’ work, was a celebration of a National Train Day. I did leave out a batch of train songs, better for another time and place.