Friday Five: National Train Day

Juli Thanki | May 7th, 2010

Tomorrow is the third annual National Train Day. Now, country music is known to have more than a few good train songs, but since this event has only been in existence since 2008, this week’s Friday Five will only feature songs released since Train Day’s inception.

  • Family Circle5. “White Pass Railroad” – The Del McCoury Band (2009)

    This song/history lesson from Family Circle is about the construction of Alaska’s White Pass Railroad, built in the late 19th century, to transport gold prospectors. This was no simple undertaking, sings McCoury: “It took 30,000 workers and a million pounds of powder just to lay a hundred miles of track/35 men and 3000 horses went to work and never came back.”It’s still in use, so if you ever get a chance to ride that line, be sure to remember those lyrics and give some thanks to the hard work of those who’ve gone before.

  • Viper of Melody4. “Freight Train Boogie” – Wayne Hancock (2009)

    They don’t call him “Wayne the Train” for nothing. Just try to stop your feet from tapping along to this slice of juke joint swing. If you’ve worn out your dancing shoes, also on Viper of Melody is the slower, classic sounding “High Rolling Train.”

  • Wheels3. “How Long Is This Train” – Dan Tyminski (2008)

    Written by Tim Stafford, “How Long is This Train” is a moving ballad about an encounter at a train station with an old man (that purveyor of wisdom in country songs everywhere) waiting for his son to return. No happy ending here: the old man is left with a folded flag, and the young observer is left to remember the scene every time he hears a train pass.

  • Watch America Roll By2. “Gonna Ride a Train” – J.B.Beverley and the Wayward Drifters (2009)

    On this catchy, banjoriffic track from Watch America Roll By, a hobo espouses trainhopping as a method to cure one’s sorrow and pain. I prefer a stiff drink and some Hank Williams on the stereo, but, hey, whatever works for you.

  • Whatcha Gonna Do1. “Crazy Train” – Claire Lynch (2009)

    The number one song on this list isn’t an Ozzy Osbourne cover, but it’s still excellent. Beginning with an infectious rubbery bass line, this jazzy, grassy tune from Whatcha Gonna Dofinds the sweet-voiced Lynch comparing a less than ideal relationship to a “fullspeed, hellbound train” as she realizes she’s had enough. So maybe the crazy train isn’t a real train, but anyone who’s ever ridden Amtrak during the Thanksgiving rush would beg to differ.

  1. PaulaW
    May 7, 2010 at 11:08 am

    How about “Rock Island Line”? Though there were several versions, Johnny Horton’s is my favorite.

  2. Rick
    May 7, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Some great songs about trains include:
    Rhonda Vincent’s “Kentucky Borderline”
    and
    Ricky Skaggs “Hummingbird”.

    And what, no “Wabash Cannonball”? Tsk, tsk…

  3. Jon
    May 7, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Which part of “since this event has only been in existence since 2008, this week’s Friday Five will only feature songs released since Train Day’s inception” was too tough for you to understand, Rick?

  4. Stormy
    May 7, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Jon: Listeners routinely add songs they like to these lists. There are no Train Day Police.

  5. PaulaW
    May 7, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Well, far be it from me to take up for Rick, but geez Jon, I didnt read it either apparently.

    And since I havent bought much music in the past three years, chances are I havent heard a ‘new’ train song (uhm, unless we go with Alan’s ‘Fright Train’)

  6. Jon
    May 7, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Stormy, which part of Rick’s taking Juli to task for not listing “Wabash Cannonball” did you miss?

  7. Stormy
    May 7, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Its not the part I missed, its the part I got. The part where its the same kind of banter that goes on every week.

  8. Jon
    May 7, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Your defense of misreading and consequent rudeness is that everybody does it? Nice!

  9. Dave D.
    May 7, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    A couple of other good recent ones would be Amy Lavere’s “If Love Was a Train” and Paul Burch’s “Like a Train”.

  10. Stormy
    May 7, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I didn’t defend you, Jon. My defense of banter is that it is banter.

  11. Razor X
    May 7, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    “…Your defense of misreading and consequent rudeness is that everybody does it? Nice!”

    Re: rudeness — Pot, meet kettle.

  12. Howard
    May 7, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Those are some pretty slim years for train songs, but ol’ reliable Merle has got one on his new record called ‘Oil Tanker Train’. Actually come to think of it Willie’s got one on his new record also, ‘Freight Train Boogie’. Of course I guess Jon will tell me that it is not a valid entry because Willie isn’t the first to sing it!

  13. Jon
    May 7, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    My defense of banter is that it is banter.

    Except when you don’t like it, then it’s policing. Nice!

  14. Nicolas
    May 7, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Alan Jackson’s recent title-track “Freight Train” is a great song! =)

  15. Nicolas
    May 7, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Oh yeah, and the amazing “Follow That Train” by Jessica Harp — best song on a perfect album <3

  16. Rick
    May 7, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Jon, haven’t you figured out by now I almost never read the small articles at the start of these types of threads? I figure just reading what the topic subject is about each week is enough to join in on the casual “banter” that follows by tossing in often irrelevant and non-conforming comments. These threads are meant to be both entertaining and educational, so why take them so seriously? Its not like I’m going to actually purchase any of the songs Juli listed because its likely many of the artists listed are personal friends of yours! Yikes!

    PS – I’m guessing Juli set the “since Train Day originated” time limit just because all the hundreds (or more) of great train songs in the history of country and bluegrass music would have been overwhelming! The only time I intentionally show disrespect around here is when I’m bagging on Odumbo and the Demoncraps, the rest of the time its due to negligence or cluelessness…

  17. Mayor JoBob
    May 9, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Hello? What about Dierks’ bluegrassy “Train Travelin'” with Del McCoury?

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