25 train tracks calling at all musical stations.
Wooo-wooh! Here comes the train puffing down the track, clickety clack. The steam engine began influencing our lives two centuries ago and these familiar noises have formed the compulsive rhythm of countless tunes.
Every city is centred around a railway station. The only means of travel apart from horse and carriage before the motor car was the train. It took you to work, it took you away to start life anew, it brought lovers together and it split them apart. So many tragedies played out, crimes, heartbreak, adventure, the romance and beauty of the rolling track across a prairie. The tales it could tell are manifold and the songs are begging to be written.
Folk and country has seen the biggest impact from railway repertoire and in this compilation some examples are included. It would be easy just to plump for the obvious selection but that wouldn’t have provided the desired result. Instead I tried to unearth some lesser-known but vital train-themed recordings, leading to a melting pot of musical genres, all hitched together like a line of carriages in different colours.
Cliff Carlisle’s ‘Pan American Man’, a country blues from 1937, is the earliest track, while ‘Death Train Blues” by Daddy Long Legs, a garage rock nugget from 2012, is the most modern. The others lie somewhere in the intervening years.
The wide variety nestles nicely alongside each other. We have reggae next to rockabilly, skiffle next to soul, R&B aplenty and sprinklings of pop, jazz and gospel. Among the floor-fillers are ‘Country Line Special’ by Cyril Davis, ‘Train To Skaville’ by the Ethiopians and ‘The Train From Kansas City’ by the Shangri-Las.
Most of all, the point is to entertain and delight – and I think it does the job. So come on everyone, there’s some miles of track to ride while the stories unfold. ALL ABOARD!!!