Thursday, March 03, 2005
Sixteen Coaches Long
My train's bigger than yr semi. T is Thursday. T is for Trains.
Trains have long held a place in modern mythology. Classic songs from "Midnight Special", "Wabash Cannonball", "Take the A Train", "Midnight Train to Georgia", and thousands of others (like Boxcar Willie!), have attempted to define a life through train imagery. Whether literally or metaphorically, the train as movement, as a way in or as a way out, a sign of freedom or a sign of slavery and/or hardship. The blues spread from the South into places like Chicago and Kansas City via trains. Hobo's lived their lives on the rail. Before automotives, the train was the fastest way to "see the world", as it were. The clackety clack of the tracks has been a bedrock in rock, jazz, and blues rhythms. It's the loneliest sound and the most thrilling.
Folks can argue 'til the cows get run over what the definitive train song is. For me, it's Junior Parker's "Mystery Train". It's a spooky, sad song, belied by it's chugging rhythm. Elvis covered it. Greil Marcus wrote a book. Jim Jarmusch made a classic film.
Known as the Father of Rhythm and Blues, Louis Jordan wrote a fair share of train songs, himself. My favorite follows.
Little Junior Parker: Mystery Train (mp3)
Louis Jordan: Choo Choo Ch'Boogie (mp3)
As always, the Mountain encourages you to consider purchasing yr favorite tunes locally, from yr favorite independent.