Train Song

Songs about trains, from the prosaic to the grand to the otherworldly.

Many of the classic examples include some sort of vocal or instrumental imitation of a train whistle, or (particularly in country music) the galloping snare drum that imitates the chugging of a train.

Wikipedia has a list of train songs.

Compare Dancing on a Bus. See also Car Song. Not to be confused with songs by the band Train.


Examples:

Film
  • "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" from Sun Valley Serenade.
  • "On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe" from The Harvey Girls.
  • "Night Train to Mundo Fine" from Red Zone Cuba.
  • "Casey Junior" from Disney's Dumbo. It's about the train that hauls the circus around.
  • In Crossroads, blues legend Willie Brown instructs his protégé, Eugene "Lightning Boy" Martone that nobody will take him seriously as a blues guitarist until he can "make the song of a fast train to nowhere, chugging along the tracks, come outta your guitar". The old man constantly rags on the younger for his 'train song" being far too smooth. It isn't until the end, when Martone has finally felt true heartbreak, that he gets it right.
  • "This Train is Bound for Glory" (see below) gave Woody Guthrie the title for his autobiography Bound for Glory, and thus gave a title to the 1976 film about Guthrie, Bound for Glory. David Carradine, as Guthrie, sings the song.

Live-Action TV

Theatre
  • "The Enchanted Train" from Sitting Pretty.
  • "Train to Johannesburg" from Lost in the Stars.
  • "Leavin' for the Promise Lan'" from Porgy and Bess.
  • "On the Twentieth Century" from On the Twentieth Century.

Web Animation

Western Animation
  • Parodied in Metalocalypse, where every blues song has the word "train" in it somewhere.

    Curiously, all the songs were written around gruesome murders, but:
    Swissgar: All theys sings about is trains?
    Mashed Potato Johnson: Is there anything else really to talk about?
  • The ChalkZone song "Midnight Train"

Other Music
  • "Texas and Pacific" by Louis Jordan. Notably, many of Louis Jordan's songs, train-centric or not, used the distinctive "chugging" rhythm associated with this type of song, as did those of some other contemporary jazz musicians (like Louis Prima).
  • "Downtown Train" from Rain Dogs, "Down There By the Train" from Orphans, Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards and (believe it or not) "Train Song" from Franks Wild Years by Tom Waits.
  • Many spirituals; e.g., "The Gospel Train" and "This Train Is Bound for Glory".
  • Folk blues song "Rock Island Line".
  • "Take the 'A' Train", written by Billy Strayhorn for Duke Ellington's orchestra.
  • "Wabash Cannonball"
  • "Last Train to Clarksville" by The Monkees.
  • "The One After 909" from Let It Be by The Beatles.
  • "Trans Europa Express" by Kraftwerk.
  • "Moskow Diskow" by Telex.
  • "Casey Jones"
  • "City of New Orleans" is a folk song written by Steve Goodman, describing a train ride from Chicago to New Orleans via the Illinois Central Railroad in bittersweet and nostalgic terms. Although written by Goodman, it was popularized by Arlo Guthrie.
  • Gladys Knight & the Pips created two songs: "Midnight Train to Georgia" and "Friendship Train".
  • "Trem das Sete" (translates as something like "7 O'clock Train") by Raul Seixas.
  • "Morning Train" is actually the English adaptation of "Trem das Sete" by Raul Seixas.
  • "Marrakesh Express" by Crosby, Stills & Nash.
  • "Rudy" by Supertramp has stock train sounds, an announcer at a train station, and many references to trains.
  • Marillion's "Fugazi" has a reference to "the liquid seize on the Piccadilly Line", referring to The London Underground as a "dank electric labyrinth".
  • "Hit The Rails" by Loudness
  • "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne.
  • "Peace Train" by Cat Stevens.
  • "Love Train" by The O'Jays.
  • "Waiting for a Train" by Jimmie Rodgers.
  • "Orange Blossom Special," traditional bluegrass fiddle tune, although the version done by Johnny Cash includes lyrics.
  • "Mystery Train" by Elvis Presley from The Sun Sessions.
  • "Long Black Train" by Josh Turner.
  • "I'm a Train" by Albert Hammond.
  • "Train Song" by Havalina Rail Co..
  • "Runaway Train" by Soul Asylum
  • "Meksicon pikajuna" ("Mexico express") by numerous artists. Is about a train robbery with a bawdy twist in the end.
  • "Play a Train Song" by Todd Snider plays with this. Instead of being about a train, it's about an extraordinary man with a passion for life and train songs.
  • Vocaloid Rin's song "Makuragi," which is either All Just a Dream or possibly alluding to a Afterlife Express.
  • "Ghost Train" by Gorillaz
  • "Locomotive" and "Ridin' With the Driver" by Motorhead.
  • "Princess of the Night" by Saxon.
  • "Auctioneer (Another Engine)" and "Driver 8" from R.E.M. Bonus points for the drums in Auctioneer sounding exactly like an oncoming train.
  • "Last of the Steam Powered Trains" by the Kinks - Ray's singing metaphorically about himself here.
  • "Last Train to Trancentral" by The KLF. (Trancentral was Jim Cauty's home and the band's recording studio. Apparently it was not nearly as impressive as the song makes it out to be.)
  • "Last Train to London" by Electric Light Orchestra.
  • "Not Just A Train" by Spirit Of The West
  • "Train Train" by Blackfoot.
  • "Die Eisenbahnballade" ("The Railroad Ballad") by German singer-songwriter Reinhard Mey, which manages to pack quite a bit of rail-centric history into its 11 minutes.
  • "Train Kept A-Rollin'," originally by Tiny Bradshaw, later covered by The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith, among others.
  • Quite a number by Johnny Cash, including "The Wreck of the Old 97", "Down there by the train" and "Like the 309".
  • "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers.
  • "Locomotive" by Running Wild.
  • "Train To Bedlam" by Twilightning.
  • "Tren Al Sur" ("Train To The South") by the Chilean rock group Los Prisioneros.
  • "Tren Del Cielo" ("Heaven's Train") by Soledad Pastorutti.
  • "Long Train Runnin'" by The Doobie Brothers.
  • "Homebound Train" by Bon Jovi.
  • "Locomotive Breath," "Journeyman," and "Raising Steam" by Jethro Tull.
  • "Kundalini Express" and "Yin and Yang (The Flowerpot Man)" by Love And Rockets.
  • "Train Of Consequences" by Megadeth.
  • "Runaway Train" by Elton John and Eric Clapton.
  • "Just Like This Train" by Joni Mitchell.
  • "Nighttime in the Switching Yard" by Warren Zevon.
  • "Monkey and the Engineer" by The Grateful Dead.
  • "Been On A Train" and "Poverty Train" by Laura Nyro.
  • Folsom Prison Blues - the train the prisoner keeps hearing is a symbol of freedom, movement, wealth... basically everything the prisoner doesn't have.
  • Station To Station by David Bowie. There's probably some religious symbolism about the Stations of the Cross too, but the song starts with locomotive sound effects.
  • "Spanish Train" by Chris de Burgh is about an Afterlife Express.
  • "Blue Smoke" by Dolly Parton is a Break Up Song about leaving on a train. The chorus includes the onomatopoeic lines "clickety clickety clickety clack" and "choo-choo, choo-choo, woo woo woo".
  • "Broken Train" by Beck
  • "Spice Train" by Thomas Dolby
  • "Outside The Door" by Can from "Monster Movie"
    Can you hear the train whistle... ?
  • "Last of the Steam-Powered Trains" by The Kinks from The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society is a song about - and from the point of view of - a train preserved in a museum.
  • "Freight Train Blues", covered by Bob Dylan on Bob Dylan.