Ten Favorite Train Songs: Desperados Waiting for a Train (#1)
By Four Walls
March 11, 2017 7:45pm CST
Put the shovel down and stop feeding coal to the engine, because this train has pulled in for its last stop. Thanks to everyone who responded so favorably to my #1 "song about train" discussion earlier today. I don't think this one will be as popular; however, this, to me, is a major gut-puncher. Here's my favorite song with "train" in the title. #1: Desperados Waiting for a Train - Guy Clark I first discovered this incredible song about a boy's hero worship of an older man on the classic Jerry Jeff Walker album ¡Viva Terlingua! (a quick aside: I don't think Jerry Jeff gets enough credit for his role in shaping what became known as the "outlaw" movement in country music in the mid-70s. He called his brand of not-Nashville-cookie-cutter music "gonzo country" [after Hunter S. Thompson's phrase about his particular type of journalism], but the influence is there). Then later, I became acquainted the Guy Clark's name courtesy of his song "Heartbroke," which Rodney Crowell recorded on an album and later Ricky Skaggs took to #1 with a sanitized version. (Let me put it this way: the line is not "Pride when you're rich is a bore when you're lonely," but Clark's original word does rhyme with "rich," if you catch my drift.) Guy Clark, who was one of the way, way too many music acts we lost in 2016, was a songwriter's songwriter. Harlan Howard once said that country music is "three chords and the truth," but in Guy Clark songs it was more like "three chords and the tiniest detail about the truth." Here he described the relationship from the fun ("he taught me how to drive his car when he's too drunk to") to the sadness of realizing the octogenarian was dying ("he's one of the heroes of this country, so why's he dressed up like them old men?"). If you ever had an older person who enriched your life this song will speak volumes to you. Thanks for reading. Desperados Waiting for a Train Written by Guy Clark Recorded by Guy Clark From Old No. 1, 1975 Also recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker From ¡Viva Terlingua!, 1973 I was just a kid, they called me "Sidekick":
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Interesting collection of train songs, and I concur with Steel Rails and Runaway Train. You're definitely steeped in Bluegrass tradition and what I call "real country music." Love that. I'm going to add a couple I really like, mostly because I can sing them! Engineers Don't Wave from Trains (Lynn Morris, Tom T Hall), Jenny Dreamed of Trains (Vince Gill), and of course, all the hobo songs from the folk era like Go to Sleep, You Weary Hobo (Woodie Guthrie, Joan Baez, Emmylou). And since I'm a huge Johnny Horton fan, Rock Island Line. The era of train travel is over, but the songs will live on. Great list. Keep 'em coming.