Thursday 11 February 2010

10 Great Railway Journeys of the Blues

1. HOWLIN' WOLF Smokestack Lightnin'
The Wolf's run of greatness began right here in 1954. Wang Dang Doodle, Back Door Man, Spoonful, Shake For Me and The Red Rooster followed in short order. The riff was recycled for The Kinks' Last of the Steam-Powered Trains, but that's another story.

"Parker sang halfway from the grave, chasing his lover through the gloom..." wrote Greil Marcus in the book of the same name.

3. BUKKA WHITE Bald Eagle Train
Bukka takes the overnighter from Kansas to California to fulfil his first paid engagement upon rediscovery in 1964. The tale of this epic journey is worthy of a Homer.

4. BLIND WILLIE McTELL Travellin' Blues
A day in the life of an itinerant, train-hopping hobo in the depths of the US Depression.

5. MEADE LUX LEWIS Honky Tonk Train Blues
The original barrelhouse boogie-woogie, complete with railway sound effects.

Memorably, the train left the station with two lights on behind. The blue light was his blues, the red light was his mind.

7. JESSE JAMES Southern Casey Jones
A mysterious bluesman, said to be a prisoner on Death Row, leaves his last will and testament.

A Honky Tonk Train with running commentary. And we mean running: ""I wanted to get off that train but she was going too fast... my heel knocked my brains out."

9. ARTHUR CRUDUP Mean Old Frisco
A precursor to Mystery Train, although there's no mystery about these trains: the mean old, mean old Frisco and low down Sante Fe.

10. CANNON'S JUG STOMPERS Big Railroad Blues
"Walked to the railroad... found the trains don't run... Feel like hollering, mama, screaming out and crying..." A yardman himself, Gus Cannon knew what he was talking about.

Related articles
Great Railway Journeys of the Blues (Dyverse dyatribes)

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