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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Train Has Left the Station

Well, I just wrote two rather lengthy emails that could have just as easily been non-responders by me, and I realized both were very elaborate distracted avoidance attempts by me. Apparently, nothing gets my creative juices flowing quite as fast as the actual need to get my critical thinking/logic juices flowing. Except I don't even think those are juices. Probably some sort of infusion. Or micro-powder. Whatever it is, I skew toward juice, when pressed, to think.

Now I'm imagining myself with a rind. It's kind of fun!

See, even here I'm coming off as a little bit drunk when folks, unless the granola bar I ate has fermented oats n' honey, is not the case, not even a lick.
Juicy Fruit - it's gonna move ya!
It might not, but trains will.

I love trains. I like the idea, I like the noises, I like the motion, I like the connectivity, and I like when "The Soup" on E! makes fun of the show "I love toy trains" even though I love that the show is so earnestly named and that everyone on it truly does love toy trains. One college I visited while trying to decide where to apply had an ice cream shop with a train on the ceiling. I think I remembered that more than any other part of the trip.
I did not attend that institution, but I did admire the train.

Anyway, another great part about trains? Songs about trains!
Most of the time, if you write a song about a train, I tend to like it a little more, just because of the train advantage you get.
I even loved the old Amtrak commercial jingle.
"All abooooaaaaard, America! All aboard, Amtrak."
Yes. Indeed! Choo choo!

As such, I offer the following list of beloved or noteworthy train songs, in no particular order. Are there exceptions to every rule about train association being absolutely positive? Yes. Is the band Train one of them? Yes. Though I refuse to say I don't sing along to "Drops of Jupiter" while laughing at myself for doing so. I refuse as it would not be true.

Anyway - all aboard, America.

1. Midnight Train to Georgia - Gladys Night and the Pips
When the Pips sing "Woo Woo!" to make a train whistle that's usually so cheery cut into the sadness of Gladys telling the story of her failed man's departure home (to the life he left behind), and her decision to go too, it's a sad reminder that the lonesome whistle does blow, often in more than one way.
Speaking of - how about I heard that Lonesome Whistle Blow? Hank Williams.

2. Crazy Train - (ay ay ay!) = Ozzy Osbourne
Crazy, but that's how it goes. YES, Ozzy. A nod to the sensation of whoops, I'm nuts, huh? that we all run into now and again. But still completely upbeat. It's a happy "I've lost it!" anthem rather than one of despair. An achievement in and of itself.
Honorable mention - Long Train Running - Doobies. (seems they forced the song into the context of a train, but ok, it's not terrible)

3. Peace Train - Cat Stevens
This song does officially belong in the category of "that's my jam." It is so great! It sounds like Cat Stevens is the pied piper of peace and that he had an entire party with him in the recording studio to clap and sing along, and share the message of hope for the train that's coming to take the country by storm. A train of peace, wreaking PEACE HAVOC on the nation and its people. I mean, strong imagery, but it's so dynamic and good natured all at once - I love it and believe it. Every time I hear it, I am ready to get on board. Come on come on the peace traiiiiiiiiiiiiN! Seriously. Can we get one of those? Like, build a high speed peace train rail system?

4. Love Train - O'Jays
While unfortunately co-opted by the folks at Coors to sell beer, the Love Train is not surprisingly up there with the peace train in being super duper fun and exciting. Who does not want to get on this train? It's full of LOVE! Really. Let it riiiiiide. Let it riiiiiide. Again, a driving, positive, upbeat message. On a train.

5. Groove Line - Heatwave
You know the song "Always and Forever"? It's a slow jam. It's by Heatwave. It's on a lot of soft rock and R&B stations and features prominently in the nightly request and dedication section. It is about 180 degrees from the tone, tempo, and feel of the other awesome Heatwave song, "Groove Line," which suggests that we all should get riding on the Groove Line, tonight. It is a train to jump on, because it's a party train. Which brings me to....

6. Party Train - The Gap Band
I don't know if it's an L.A. radio station's play of the Gap Band, or maybe the general maturing and refinement of my tastes, but dear lord, discovering the work of the Gap Band was like discovering part of my personal soundtrack that had been missing for decades. You know? Like, if everyone had to make a playlist that reflected who they are as a person and the events/moods/etc. of their lives, they'd have a soundtrack when they were done. The Gap Band explains a lot about me, I swear. The Party Train, an 8-ish minute song of theirs, explains the need to get aboard, and cautions listeners "don't miss that train, don't miss the party train!" All of this, while incorporating real train whistle sound effects. Yes. Yes. and Yes. Also, like a train, the song does not stop. If you were stopped at a railroad crossing and the party train went by, you'd be annoyed, because it's a long train. Which, to me, makes it all the more realistic as being a train. Real trains have a lot of cars. And real party trains have a lot of reminders about the need to be sure you are on the train. Be sure to get your ticket. So you don't miss it.
You got it, Gap Band. And thank YOU for the reminders. I love risk management.

7. The Gambler - Kenny Rogers
The entire story of the song, which is a great one, begins with the premise that the narrator is "on a train bound for nowhere" with the Gambler himself. It is by way of train travel that this guy learns everything about life from a stranger who knew when to hold 'em. (I'd imagine he held his ticket to the party train fairly tightly, for example).

8. The Loco-motion
WELL, when you don't know that it was Little Eva before Kylie Minogue, or that Grand Funk Railroad (yeah, I kinda like their name better than most of their music) did a version of the song and you have to go to wikipedia to see what's what, THAT is where you learn Carole King co-wrote this song. Wow, that lady is everywhere. Anyway, this song, while catchy, is less one of my favorite train songs and more on the list for another special reason - providing one of my earliest A-ha moments (Take on me!) with wordplay. I distinctly remember realizing that it could be locomotion, like a train, as well as loco-motion, like craaaazy motion and dance! It seemed so smart! It worked 2 ways! And the song is stuck in my brain as a great example of why words are very awesome and added to my lifelong love of those who use them to clever effect.

9. Train Song - Phish
This is just a good story song about a train ride and what's out the window. The sense of travel gained is a good one, and there's a quiet, peaceful feel to the song. Not a peaceful, easy feeling. Don't get me wrong. (I just really don't like the Eagles man....GET OUT OF MY CAB...)

10. Runaway Train - Soul Asylum
I mean, come on. Really. Look it up on the internet. Listen to it. And see if you're not both transported to the year it came out in your head, and also a little sad because of the song. You areeeee. It got ya. Wrong way on a one-way track.

11. Bluegrass train songs - general
You can make a fiddle sound like a train whistle, and like a chugging train, and do it all together all at once until you honestly hear a train coming in a song. I really have yet to meet one of these songs I don't love. I think it's the orange blossom express? Yep. That's an example. It sounds like a train! Listen!

12. Train Song - Chet Atkins
I know these were in no particular order, but this would probably be my number 1 train song, if pressed (like an orange that fell off the orange blossom express, of course). This song makes me really ridiculously happy. It's instrumental as a song, and instrumental to improving my mood, day or night.

Speaking of, gotta put this train in the station for bed.
Choo Choo!

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