classic railroad songs

Discussion related to railroads/trains that show up in TV shows, commercials, movies, literature (books, poems and more), songs, the Internet, and more... Also includes discussion of well-known figures in the railroad industry or the rail enthusiast hobby.

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Post by Conrail1990 »

What about Train Train by Molly Hatchet

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Post by gravelyfan »

Driver 8 by R.E.M. is interesting.

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Post by Kick'em »

A local public radio station does a 1 hr theme show of old country songs every Sat. Once they did one on trains, train lines, hobos, train wrecks, etc.
Since I work for the RR, my aunt assumed that I like trains and like working for the RR. Well, "assume" just makes an ASS out of U and ME. She called the station and got a copy of the show and gave it to me for Christmas.
These were all really old songs, many from the 30s and 40s.

Some of the songs are "Big Train", "Orange Blossom Express", Wabash Cannonball, L&N Rag, Wreck of Old 97, Number 9, Engineers Don't Wave From the Trains Anymore, I Still Remember the Steam Engine Trains, Daylight Train, Pan American Queen, Cannonball Yodel, Riding on the L&N.

Lots of others. WZRU LP Country Show.


Innumerable blues songs referencing trains

Post by Prairiefire »

As a amateur blues musician/fan as well as a railfan, I'll list a few titles. Railroad themes, as well as wails from harmonicas and guitars to imitate train sounds are very common.

Some railroad themed blues songs:

"Mean old Frisco" - Muddy Waters
"Love in Vain" - Robert Johnson (When the train left the station, he had two lights on behind, the blue light was my baby, and the red light was my mind..)
"Panama Limited" - Bukka White
"Hold that Train" - Otis Rush
"Down Home Special" - Bo Diddley
"Mystery Train" - Junior Parkers Blues Band (original version) - redone by numerous bands such as Paul Butterfield, Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, etc.
"Smokestack Lightning" - Howlin' Wolf
"Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" - Louis Jordan (a jump/swing blues tune) - "I love to hear the rhythm of the clickety clack...take me back to the track jack, choo choo, choo cho ch'boogie..."
"She took the Katy" - Blues Brothers did a cover, I forget who wrote the original

More jazz oriented - although some blues versions:

"Take the 'A' Train" - Duke Ellington

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Post by james1787 »

"Take the A Train" by Duke Ellington.
James Kern

Conrail Tweety

Post by Conrail Tweety »

Freight Train

Written by Elizabeth Cotten when she was a child.

There is a version on YouTube with her being interviewed by Pete Seeger. She was Pete's maid for many years.

She plays a right-hand strung guitar, upside-down with her left hand and has a beautiful mix of melody and rhythm that sounds like two guitars. She was quite old when this was recorded, and her voice shows her age. It's some of the best guitar finger pickin' you'll ever hear. She won a Grammy after she was 90 years old.

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Post by Lucius Ameri »

I like Johnny Cash- Orange Bloosom Special & Hey Porter, Steve Goodman- City of New Orleans, Willie Nelson-Homeward Bound, and Wabash Cannonball-various. That's my pick!
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Post by jscola30 »

There's book out called singin' rails, that actually has lead sheets to some of these songs.

More religious, but "This Train is Bound for Glory"

Being a jazz fan, I concur with Take the A train, and would add Chatanooga Choo-Choo, Tuxedo Junction, Night Train, The Happy-Go-Lucky-Local, and that Old Circus Train Turnaround Blues.

Charlie on the MTA (I'm not a fan, so maybe someone else can help me, but I think a Boston band call Dropkick Murphy's did a song called Skin Head on the MBTA as an updated version)

I've come to realize, both as a musician and railfan, that trains must be something special, as no other mode of transportation has such songs like trains do.

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Post by johnthefireman »

"Poor Paddy works on the railway" comes in various versions, including an interesting one recorded by the Pogues.

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Post by Conrail1990 »

Who did the original song " wreck of ol 97"?
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Post by Gilbert B Norman »

"Life is like a mountain railroad"; best known performers of such are Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline (somehow, I can't believe the stuff you find on the internet; did the rights holder let this material go into the public domain, or what?):

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Post by Hoosier Joe »

"What the Engine Done" sung by Two Ton Baker back in the 1940's is rather humerous. I heard it once on the Dr Demento Show.

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Duke and His Boys

Post by 2nd trick op »

Most people with some exposure to jazz are familiar with "Night Train", popularized around 1950 by Duke Ellington's sideman Jimmy Forrest. But the music is actually based on "Happy-go-Lucky Local", one movement of the Ellington/Strayhorn/Hodges composition "Deep South Suite" developed some ten years previously.

As an aside, Duke Ellington had a soft spot for rail travel, often chartering one or two cars and using them as his base of operations, partially in protest of the segregated hotel facilities still in force in much of the nation at the time. PBS has occasionally shown color film of several Ellingtonians playing sandlot ball in front of the cars.

And here's a link to one of the finest authorities on jazz of which I am aware:
Last edited by 2nd trick op on Mon Jan 14, 2008 1:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
What a revoltin' development this is! (William Bendix)

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Post by MikeF »

I haven't seen any mention of "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight and the Pips.


Train Music

Post by AFR »

Here ´re my favourite train music videos.

1) Rod Stewart - Downtown Train ... &plindex=0

2) Gwen Stefani - Early Winter ... &plindex=0
I guess it was taken in Budapest, wasn´t it?
I can say that you see only MAV cars (from Hungary)

3) Dolls United - Eine Insel mit zwei Bergen (German) ... &plindex=0

that´s a techno song from Augsburg´s doll theater from the 1990´s.

4) Udo Lindenberg - Sonderzug nach Pankow (German) ... &plindex=1

5) The Muppets - Subway ... &plindex=0

6) Pet Shop Boys - Kings Cross ... &plindex=0

Do you know any other "train" songs?

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