Top 5: Train Songs

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It’s been a while since we had a top list and I figured train songs would be a great topic. So here are my Top 5 train songs:

  1. The Monkees – Last Train To Clarksville: This one has a lot of sentimental value for me and while it might not be one of the best train songs ever written it’s still one of my absolute favorites. A lot of train songs remind me of my grandpa, because reasons, but this one reminds of me of Saturdays with my mom and those memories are more than welcome.
  2. Jerry Jeff Walker – Some Go Home (The Train Song): Most folks would probably pick Desperadoes Waiting For A Train if they put a Jerry Jeff song of their list. This is a more of a deep cut about life in general and I think it’s a little more melancholy than Desperadoes and for that reason it’s a little higher on my list. Trust me, Desperadoes is on my list, it’s just not in the Top 5.
  3. Johnny Cash – Hey Porter: This is truly one that reminds of my Grandpa. From hearing him play it to the wooden train toys he made me by hand, that I failed to appreciate, while I was growing up. This is truly the stuff of fond memories and good times.
  4. Woody Guthrie – Hobo’s Lullaby: A true classic of the folk genre and beautifully performed song. I went back and grabbed Woody’s version but truly any cover I’ve heard has been amazing. I really like Woody’s take on this 1938 classic. The recording isn’t perfect but I think that adds to the experience.
  5. Avail – West Wye: As far as I know this is one of the only punk songs about trains and it’s the one that’s inspired the most wanderlust in me in recent years. The opening creates the perfect amount tension which drop you right in to Tim Barry’s vocals backed by the rest of Avail providing the perfect amount of drive to match the lyrics. I think that regardless of how life goes that this will always by my favorite train song.

There you have it, my top 5 train songs, so let’s have your thoughts on them as well as your top train songs…

TOM RUSSELL – BLOOD AND CANDLE SMOKE

Until further notice, this is the best record of the year. Period.

Tom Russell’s work has been interpreted by Johnny Cash, Dave Alvin, Jerry Jeff Walker and many others, but Russell has, inexplicably, flown under the mainstream radar for the duration of his career. The fact is, Russell is one of an elite group of living songwriters (Steve Earle and Peter Case among them) whose work has improved exponentially as their careers have progressed.

Blood and Candle Smoke may not bring Russell to the forefront of public consciousness, but it does serve as an astonishing reminder of his career evolution and devotion to his craft. Russell may be every bit the grizzled borderland  barfly that his singing voice suggest, but his is a poet’s heart and here, backed by Calexico, Russell unleashes a cannon blast of evocative, razor-sharp lyricism, blowing the doors off of anything I’ve heard this year. I would say that Blood and Candle Smoke will be remembered as Russell’s masterwork but he’s obviously got plenty of gas left in the tank and miles to go before that proverbial sleep. Judging by his body of work, I have every reason to believe he’ll bleed that tank dry getting to the finish line, much to our benefit.

Tom Russell – East of Woodstock, West of Vietnam
Tom Russell – Don’t Look Down

Tom Russell’s Official Site, Tom Russell on myspace, Buy Blood and Candle Smoke

AN ELDER STATESMAN…

Hailed in the press as the elder statesman of Texas music Ray Wylie Hubbard has been pickin’ guitars and writin’ songs for longer than I have been alive. Most of you probably know his work through Jerry Jeff Walker who made Up Against The Wall Redneck Mother famous back in 1973. With fourteen albums under his belt and almost forty years in country music industry Ray Wylie is the real deal. He has lived his music and was a sodden drunk until sometime in 1987 when he credits another Texas great: Stevie Ray Vaughan with convincing him to stop drinking.

I have to admit his first albums have not grown on me even over the years but what could one expect when one of the was named Ray Wylie & The Cowboy Twinkies? In fact almost two decades of his career is mostly lost on me. 1992 marked the release of Lost Train of Thought and that is where I believe Ray Wylie came into his own. Seventeen years and nine albums later Ray still has the stuff he couldn’t find in the 70’s and 80’s. Now I don’t know if he really is an elder statesman of the Texas music scene but I do know that he still tours, still picks his guitar, and still writes amazing music. He just finished an album that’s slated to be released in January as well as having co-written a screenplay that’s said to worthy of Sam Peckinpah. The movie is called The Last Rites of Ransom Pride and stars Dwight Yoakum along with Cote de Pablo of NCIS fame. Along with the soundtrack he wrote all of the music for the movie. For a man his age he’s a busy son of a bitch.

If you ever have the chance to see him live I would highly recommend that you don’t miss it. It won’t be a rowdy show that leaves you draggin’ ass home and it won’t be a sing-along but it will be a show that you won’t likely forget. In case you need a teaser here are some Ray Wylie tracks for your listening pleasure:

Ray Wylie Hubbard – Choctaw Bingo
Ray Wylie Hubbard – Dust of the Chase
Ray Wylie Hubbard – Dallas After Midnight

Ray Wylie Hubbard – Official Site, Ray Wylie Hubbard – MySpace, The Last Rites of Ransom Pride