Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Big black trains and cold, cold beer

Stop me if you’ve heard this...

I had to work extra late tonight and don't have the energy or time to write a decent post, so I've reposted one from the past. What’s this? Reruns on the Bus? Sorry, I do not plan to make a habit of this, but I figure it’s better than letting the Bus idle.

This post originally appeared on the Bus 2 February 2006. I have selected new music to accompany, so it is only my rambling that is repeated.


There is only one road out of the industrial wasteland where I earn make my living and that road is crossed by three railway crossings. Recently it seems that someone at Norfolk Southern Railroad has scheduled the assembly of a large freight train at beer-thirty on Wednesday afternoons. A long string of tank and hopper cars eases across the road, the engine well out of sight beyond the bend, ever slowing until the echoing jolt of the couplers is heard and then the parade reverses. As the last tank car approaches the crossing, the snake of cars comes to a stop once again as the brakeman throws the switch. The string of cars reverse down a new track this time until, bang!bang,bang,bang... yet another string of cars are added to the parade. Now much longer than when it first backed across my path to cold beer and freedom, the train slowly starts it's long journey to places far away.

I've sat in my car watching this slow-motion pong game for thirty to forty-five minutes every Wednesday and it occurred to me that most songs about trains speak of gaining your freedom on a train to somewhere new or of losing someone who was leaving on a train. Not a song comes to mind that presents the train as an impediment to freedom. Perhaps I could use my time, as the tank cars lumber by, to write a sad train song about my temporary loss of freedom.
Yea, or I could just throw a cooler behind the seats on Wednesdays.

The Titans - The Noplace Special.mp3

Arlie Miller - Big Black Train.mp3

Stan Johnson & The Sonics - Big Black Train.mp3

Floyd Fletcher - Move on Down the Track.mp3

Note: Our hearts go out to the folks affected by the bridge collapse in Minneapolis.

19 Comments:

Blogger oomi said...

I visited your blog space and found it very interesting. Keep it up dude!!!

August 02, 2007 11:22 AM  
Anonymous dan said...

Hi Ed,
Everyone must feel the tragedy of the bridge collapse. That's the kind of stuff none of us should ever have to worry about. Highly-paid lard-asses are supposed to guarantee our safety by looking after these kinds of infrastructure things.
Anyway, loved the post. If Marty Stuart has never heard Arlie Miller before, he needs to sit down and strap on the headphones. He'd swear he was listening to himself.

August 02, 2007 6:38 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Oomi - Thanks for the kind words. It's comments and feedback that keep the Bus on the road.

August 02, 2007 10:25 PM  
Blogger kjk said...

ed, like you, i can't think of a single train song that blames the train itself for a lack of freedom, but i can think of quite a few that use the train as a prop to express one's lack of it ... among them ...

Folsom Prison Blues
In the Pines/Longest Train I Ever Saw
Hobo's Lullabye

I'm sure there are many more ...

August 02, 2007 10:26 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Dan - You are right that none of us should have to worry about such a tragedy happening.

Your comparison of Marty Robbins and Arlie Miller is interesting. I'll have to give them a side-by-side listen.

August 02, 2007 10:28 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

KJK - Nice selection you chose for examples, Ken.

I'll continue my search for a "stuck at the crossing" song, I figure there's bound to be one somewhere.

August 02, 2007 10:33 PM  
Blogger kjk said...

Oh ... Can't forget Hank Senior's "Ramblin' Man..." (Prop-wise ....)

August 02, 2007 10:46 PM  
Anonymous dan said...

Hi Ed,
Just for clarification, I said Marty STUART, noy Marty Robbins.

August 03, 2007 5:48 PM  
Blogger songer said...

Can't help thinking Big Black Train must have been the source for Train Kept a Rollin' by Yardbirds then Aerosmith.

August 03, 2007 8:06 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Ha! Dan, I ought to put my reading specs on before I reply to comments.

Wow, you are right. Marty Stuart could be a reincarnation of Arlie Miller!

August 03, 2007 9:09 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Doug (songer),
Good observation! I'd have to agree to the possibility.

August 03, 2007 9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The railroad being an impediment to freedom--I'll say, you should have to work on one of ths som bitches. I just got off work myself and lately have been putting in between 10 to most 12 hour days work for the UP. The railroad is one of the most Nazi, screwed up and badly managed places to work for you'll ever see. Well, enjoy your beers, and drink one on me... Enjoyed what I've seen of you blog though ;)

August 04, 2007 3:26 AM  
Anonymous Rockin'n'rollin' said...

humm... Songer, I think that the inspiration
for the yardbirds interpretation of "Train kept a rollin'" (an original jump-boogie of Tiny Bradshaw
pretty different as sound) is the cover by Johnny Burnette R'n'R Trio.

August 04, 2007 5:00 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Anonymous,
I have come to the conclusion that working for any company sucks. I can sympathise with your plight, I have been working 10-12 hour days since February myself.

August 04, 2007 8:18 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Rockin'n'rollin',
Thanks, buddy. If it has anything to do with boogie, you are the authority.

August 04, 2007 8:20 PM  
Blogger Black Dog said...

Hello Ed, Good to see things moving again. Trains are a great place to think about things. I used to travel across America regularly - NYC - San Franciso - The Zephyr it was called. The excursion ticket lasted 45 days and you could descend the train 3 times, take your time, talk to folks or just think. I chose to talk very little, and wrote my thoughts down but since then thoughts have changed continents. The trains here are wonderful and they go much faster but the poetique is still the same. Getting out, go somewhere, change ideas. Don't know if it's better than a cold beer after a hard days work but I personally still use this mode of movement to keep things going. Rivers are like this too, perpetuel motion and change... perhaps.
Tom Waits wrote a train song. I have no acces to it but remember I really liked it. Of course it was nostalgic but Tom's voice puts a little gravel into it. And even nostalgia isn't what it used to be and this is good I suppose. If you ever find it send it on by way of the BBBus.

all thoughts fly... k.

August 06, 2007 9:30 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Hi Black Dog,
Trains are a great way to travel. Unfortunatley, the rail system in the US is not what it once was.

Rivers... now that's my prefered mode of transport.

August 07, 2007 8:25 PM  
Anonymous john said...

I've always been a "Train Nut" and, if I see one coming to the crossing try to slow down to "catch the train". I love to shut off the car, sit and enjoy the "symphony of steel" as the train sings it's way past me.

August 09, 2007 10:13 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

John,
I share your interest in trains. I grew up along the tracks and often walked the tracks or hopped a slow moving freight into town. But, the train looses its appeal when it comes between me and cold refreshment at the end of a long day.

August 09, 2007 7:50 PM  

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