Tuesday Tunes 105: Train

The news here has given me a good prompt for my theme this week. The two main unions which represent workers on our railway network are currently balloting their members on possible strike action, and the results are expected later today. The current prediction is that the vote will have a big majority for industrial action, so it seems likely that we will shortly be seeing a work to rule and possibly an all out strike. Sometimes, I’m glad that I don’t get out much! But this got me thinking that I knew a few songs that would fit the bill, so I chose as this week’s theme: train.

As regular readers will know I like to get things off to a rousing start. Will this do?

I do love this band! Rock ‘N’ Roll Train was the opening track on AC/DC’s fourteenth album, Black Ice, which was released in October 2008. This was their first studio album in more than eight years, and its sales figures suggested that their fans had been missing them: it reached #1 in the US, the UK, and a whole string of other countries: 27 of them, to be exact. It has to date sold well over 6m copies worldwide. This track was released as a single ahead of the album, in August 2008, but they have never really been a singles band: it got to #45 in Canada and #44 in Japan, and the only other chart placing that Wikipedia records is #1 on the US Mainstream Rock chart, which is based on radio airplay as opposed to sales. If you’re interested, the black and white clips in the video of railway tracks are from a little film the BBC put together in 1953, showing the journey from London to Brighton speeded up to take just four minutes. I remember seeing it on tv while I was growing up – it was one of the Beeb’s standard time fillers if a live broadcast finished early. You can see the whole film here.

Another piece of classic rock for you now:

The Doobie Brothers released Long Train Running in March 1973 on their album The Captain And Me, which reached #7 in the US and #10 in Canada, but didn’t make the UK charts. The track was released as a single later the same month, getting to #8 in both the US and Canada. Again, it didn’t make the UK charts, but it was remixed and re-released in 1993 and this time around made it to #7 in the UK. The Doobies have had much success in the US but not so much here, which I have always found surprising. This was another of those albums that got played a lot in my university days: as it includes this track and China Grove you can probably see why!

While I’m on a roll with great rock acts, I thought I’d drop this one in too:

Though that live performance is much more recent, dating from 2013, Downbound Train was originally a track on Bruce Springsteen’s mega hit album Born In The USA, which was released in June 1984. It topped the charts in the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden, and has sold more than 30m copies. Seven of the album’s twelve tracks were released as singles, but this wasn’t one of them, not even as a B-side. I guess that just goes to prove how strong the album was! I have happy memories of this album: I bought it on vinyl but then copied it to tape to play in the car. In those days my then wife and I had a holiday each year in the Lake District and took it in turns to choose the music. By the end of the holiday she had heard it so often that she was beginning to like it!

I know of at least three versions of my next selection. It was hard for me to leave out the one by Mary Chapin Carpenter, much less so to omit Rod Stewart, but I went for the original, by the guy who wrote the song. It’s a nice little video, too:

Watching that again I think I made the right choice: that is such an evocative video, and it goes so well with the song. Downtown Train was a track on Rain Dogs, the ninth studio album by Tom Waits, released in September 1985. It was a loose concept album about “the urban dispossessed” of New York City, and you can see that from the video, I think. The album only got to #188 in the US, but reached #29 in the UK. It performed best in Scandinavia, though, peaking at #5 in Sweden and at #12 in Norway. Despite that low chart position it has sold more than 500k copies in the US. Tom has a style and a voice all of his own, and I kinda like it.

I’ve featured John Hiatt a couple of times recently, and as he has been well-received I thought I’d give you another of his. It is an album track, so it is an audio-only clip, but I think he’s worth it:

As that shows, Train To Birmingham is a track on John’s album Dirty Jeans And Mudslide Hymns, which was released in August 2011, and got to #59 in the US and #99 in the UK. He may not be a big seller but, like all of his records, this contains some great songs and is well worth a listen. In keeping with the pattern he has followed since 2001 no singles were taken from this album: in my view, you’re better off playing the whole thing, anyway.

Marc Cohn is another long time favourite of mine who I have played for you before. I was never going to leave this one out:

Ghost Train was the second track on Marc’s eponymous debut album, released in February 1991, and reaching #38 in the US and #27 in the UK. You may know the album’s opening track: it was Walking In Memphis, which gave him a #13 hit in the US and #22 in the UK. If you only know the dreadful cover by Cher, please expunge all memory of it and take a listen to the original! On the strength of that song and the album, he won the Grammy in 1992 for Best New Artist. Like John Hiatt he never makes a bad record, and I have everything he has ever done in my collection: they have pride of place there. A version of this song was included on Work To Do, a live collaboration by Marc with the Blind Boys Of Alabama, released in August 2019. It is equally lovely, as befits a song about those we have lost.

Unusally for me I haven’t yet included a female vocalist this week. The penultimate song may not be too late to set that straight, and it is a little gem:

That Train Don’t Run was a track on Matraca Berg’s third album, Sunday Morning To Saturday Night, which was released in September 1997, making #48 on the US Country chart and #22 in Canada. This song was released as a single, making #59 in the US Country chart and #70 in the Canadian Country listings. I bought the album on a whim one lunchtime, back in the days when I worked near Paddington Station and it had a branch of Our Price Records (remember them, UK readers?). It was in the remainders bin, and something about it just attracted me. I’ve never regretted it: it is a lovely album. Matraca has had more success with songs that have been recorded by others, including a #1 for Reba McEntire. I follow her on Instagram and she is a delight, always ready to support other artists, and is clearly popular among them. You may recall a couple of songs I have recently played by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: she has been married for nearly thirty years to Jeff Hanna, a founder member of that band, and often shares photos of them together. As I say, she is delightful, and has made some very nice albums.

For today’s final song I’m unashamedly playing again one that I featured less than three months ago, for reasons which I will remind you of after the video:

I’m kind of repeating myself here, but I think the message from this song and video can’t be overstated. Not only is this a superb song, but the video made a point about runaway children who have been lost to their families. Many have been found as a result of this video and the publicity it generated but, sadly, many others are still missing, as you will see from the comments if you watch it on YouTube. This is a heartbreaking watch: it makes me so grateful for my family. It was the third track on Soul Asylum’s sixth album, Grave Dancers Union, which was released in October 1992 and became their first album to make the charts anywhere, ultimately peaking at #11 in the US and #27 in the UK. Runaway Train was released in June 1993 as the third single from the album, and was the main driver for the album’s success, getting to #5 in the US, #1 in Canada, and #7 in the UK, as well as making the top ten in many other countries. I used to play the album a lot during my long commute around the North Circular Road in London, and still bring it out occasionally now: this song is too good to ignore!

That’s all the music for this week. As always, I had several more I could have played, so I’m sorry if I missed out anything obvious or a favourite of yours. Do tell me in the comments, as if there are enough there could always be another train arriving soon. I’m off to await what I think will be an obvious piece of news when the vote is announced, and then I can count my lucky stars that I don’t need to travel. I did it for long enough going to work, and I’m SO glad I don’t have to do it any more. And there is also our other main news story to keep me occupied: the pathetic attempts by the guy who calls himself our Prime Minister to keep his job, in the face of ever-mounting evidence that he has told lies to the House of Commons. If only our media could concentrate on stories that have a wider importance, but ’twas ever thus.

Have a great week, and I’ll see you again soon 😊🚂

28 thoughts on “Tuesday Tunes 105: Train

  1. Pingback: Last Of May | Take It Easy

  2. Fun theme here Clive
    At first I thought You said you followed Reba on IG…
    But then got it!
    – and what I liked with the Matraca song was how she makes a vocal sound like a choo choo train!

    When I saw the theme I thought of the band “train” but you didn’t need them at all.
    I never was a huge AC-DC fan but it sure was cool to learn they made a successful album in 2008! Also / loved that you linked the video clip to the old train to Brighton !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Yvette, it was a fun one to do. Matraca is very talented and deserves a higher profile. Still, I expect her song royalties keep her going!

      I try not to use band names for the links. I think I’ve only ever done it once, but it’s always a possibility. I had enough left over for another set of these even without Drops of Jupiter!

      AC/DC are still making successful records now, and they’ve been at it since the Seventies. I liked the way they blended the London-Brighton clips in, and there’s a link in the piece to the full clip: a wonderful piece of nostalgia, complete with a stuffy 50s British voiceover!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I used the link to check out part of the original clip! And loved seeing the folks going to the train – enjoyed seeing the fashion and hairstyles etc!
        All / it reminded me of Pride and Prejudice because a few times on the book/movie – Lydia gripes “oh I want to go to Brighton…”

        And that is a good song from Train, also like calling all angels 🎶
        ***
        Have you seen Jim Breuer and his comic skit on making songs AC:DC like ? Really fun.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Those were different times, weren’t they. It’s been a very long time since I read Pride and Prejudice so I don’t remember the quote – I can see how it made the link for you, though.

        Not a big fan of Train, to be honest. And I can’t say I’ve ever heard of Jim Breuer either. I’ll check him out 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. A bit late but been busy sorting out visas etc for my trip to the UK…AC/DC and Soul Asylum are my runaway favourites…New ones for me ..both of which I loved were Marc Cohen and Jeff Pevar plus Matraca as always a good mix of songs, Clive ..Hope your week is gone well have a great weekend 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, you brought put some heavy hitters today with AC/DC, The Doobies, and Springsteen. I love all those tunes. Tom Waits has one of the most distinctive voices around. I like this song quite a bit and the video introduction. I don’t remember John Hiatt. I give this song average marks, though it’s not really my preferred genre. Marc Cohen being on the road for thirteen months—wow! Great tune! Matraca Berg is right in my wife and son’s sweet spot. I know they’d like this tune better than me. Runaway Train is not only a good tune, and the message takes it to the next level.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You covered some great tracks Clive! If I was to express a view, AC/DC and Doobie Brothers would be my favourites. I looked up songs about trains to see what I would have chosen but there are so many, I ran out of steam. (sorry for the puns)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m pleased you found plenty to enjoy here, Paul. There are indeed a lot to choose from – I could easily have gone with a totally different set. As for those puns: it takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry 😂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Robbie. You did well to know that one – I thought it would be one of the less familiar songs in this batch. I’m sure people will manage without the trains, though our government has been trying to get people back into their offices, with patchy success rates.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I have noticed that your government is trying hard to get people back into London. Now why do I think that has something to do with maintaining the overinflated property market rather than what is better for employees and their families.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You could well be right, as it certainly isn’t for workers’ benefit. The funny thing is that a number of government departments don’t have enough desks for all of their staff and have been sending people home again. They really are utterly incompetent 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. You may or may not have heard “Fast Train” by the Canadian band April Wine. I think it was released in the early 70s.
    As for AC/DC, they were one of my favorite bands when I was growing up. There was always a debate in my circle of friends whether they were a heavy metal band or not (they are not, just a good ‘ol rock and roll band). I do have to admire them for hanging around for as long as they have, but I admire more their ability to do it by writing the same song over and over 🤣🤣

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t, but thank you for the tip – I’ll look it up.

      You’re right about AC/DC but a lot of bands have made long careers out of doing that – Status Quo, for example. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A fantastic lineup of train songs. There is something romantic about trains so I can see why so many are out there. I enjoyed all of these but especially enjoyed Matraca Berg. She is new to me but I really like her music.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Darlene, I’m pleased you enjoyed them. Matraca Berg isn’t known to many, but I really like her music too. There are indeed a lot of train songs out there!

      Liked by 1 person

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