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There are just three tunes to go on the 27th Street train song list and I’m going to clean up that list right here and now. When I started down this road, I had no idea just how many train songs I’d find. If any of you have been following the list, you’ll know that I started the countdown from 50 late in the game. I’ve posted a heaping helping of train songs here from quite a number of musical genres. Later on, when we explore car songs, I think the complexion of that list will be quite a bit different than this one, but I guess that remains to be seen.
I should point out that these are not in any particular order, and so when I get to number one, it doesn’t mean I think it’s the greatest ever train song, although I confess to saving a pretty good one to go out with. With that in mind, lets go back to 1967 and give a listen to Petulia Clark singing Don’t Sleep in the Subway. The strings are a bit out of control on this one but it’s got a nice little hook and the curious title draws you right in.
Ms. Clark was born in 1932. She had a number of chart hits during the 60s, but I think the one most of us remember her for is Downtown, a fabulous pop song which was released in 4 different languages in 1964.
Here’s a Petula Clark trivia morsel. She was Fred Astaire’s final on-screen dance partner for her role in Finian’s Rainbow in 1968.
Now for a change of pace, here’s the Ozark Mountain Daredevils performing Chicken Train. The Daredevils are a band from the early 70s. They had a hit with Jackie Blue that you might remember. Chicken Train is a fun tune.
OK folks, I was ridin’ #9 headin’ south from Caroline, I heard that lo-wa-won-some whistle blow. Here’s the very last train song I’m going to post for a little while at least. Yes, all I do is set and cry when I hear the evening train go by friends.
What can I say about Hank Williams. Dead by 29 of sustained self-abuse, he left behind the most incredible musical legacy. He had 11 #1 hits between 1948 and 1953 and I bet you know most of the words to all of them. His tunes, including Lonesome Whistle have been covered by many of the greats of American music.
Here’s Johnny Cash’s cover on Sun from 1957
I like this next version by Gene “Be Bop alula” Vincent, another singer who lived a relatively short life..
So, that’s it for the train song list. I hope you enjoyed it. Stay tuned for the next music list here at 27th Street, Drivin’ Nails in My Coffin, music to drink by. There’s going to be some heartbreak and tears, friends.
Train Song #3 features Dinah Shore. Remember Dinah Shore? I do. It takes a long train with a red caboose to carry my blues away, friends.
Dinah Shore was born in 1916 and lived until 1994. She had 80 charted pop hits in the 40s and 50s. She was featured on radio, she was an actress, and and she even had a television talk show. As a bonus, she even recorded a train song, giving me an excuse to feature her here on 27th Street. I don’t know anything about this song or who is playing on it, so if you happen to know that info, please comment. I do know that the tune was also recorded by Peggy Lee.
Only two more train songs to go and still so many to choose from before we turn our attention to songs about drinking (it was the whiskey talking, not me….honest).
For train song #4, let’s turn to Jack Ashford and The Sound of New Detroit. Here’s Do the Choo Choo…
“Jashford” was the percussionist for the Funk Brothers in-house Motown band in the 60s and early 70s. He was known for his tamborine work in particular, but played all kinds of percussion. This cut, from 1975 had Mr. Ashford as the feature performer.
We keep coming back to Hank Snow. Here’s train song #6…
I thought about this tune after I posted a picture of a painting I did of the same title – Lover Please. The recording I was thinking about was performed by Clyde McPhatter and I’ve loved this tune for many years. It has some great features, including really catchy hand-claps, nice piano and sax work and even some tasty back-up singing. Plus, it features Clyde McPhatter’s singing. Here’s Lover Please (train song #7)…
Now you might say that Lover Please isn’t technically a train song at all, but is really a don’t leave me baby song. After all the train songs I’ve given you, I hope you’re not going to get technical on me. Sure, he doesn’t want his baby to leave him but he’s specific about it – he doesn’t want her to take that train comin’ down the track.
Mr. McPhatter only lived for 40 years but was a very influential performer. Among other things, he founded The Drifters. Lover Please, written by Billy Swan, was recorded in 1962. It was McPhatter’s final top 10 hit. Curiously enough, it was also Mr. Swan’s first big tune. A dozen years later, Swan had a very successful album and single you might recall, called I Can Help. I used to have that one on vinyl.
There were several popular versions of train song #8 – Wreck of the Number 9. First let’s here Jim Reeves…
Of course Hank Snow recorded it….
And here’s Marty Robbins…
Train song #9 is Train Song by Tom Waits.
For train song #10, I’m going to turn to Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band performing That Train Song.
These guys are a three piece country blues band from Indiana – guitar, drums and washboard. They pretty much leave me speechless. I encourage you to check out some of their other material.
Train song of the day #12 is Last Train to Clarksville by The Monkees. It was recorded back in 1966 and remains a nice little pop tune with a really catchy hook.
Here’s a fantastic instrumental version by The Shadows. The Shads were Cliff Richards’ group and they sure knew how to rock ‘n’ roll.
I also like The Four Tops take on this one with the groovy train sounds in the intro.