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Kassie Jones - a masterpiece. Most surreal version of the Casey Jones theme. Keeps digressing into talk of other things. Freudian dream imagery - John Fahey, on Furry Lewis

Author Topic: Rail Roadin' Some  (Read 583 times)

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Offline waxwing

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Rail Roadin' Some
« on: June 10, 2015, 12:15:15 AM »
Okay, Johnm, it is again "ask and you shall receive." I'll start up a topic about railroads mentioned in songs, primarily of the prewar era, but accepting those of later vintage if there are not prewar examples. That's loose enough, eh? As you usually request, lets try to hold it to one railroad per post, and expect a little research, like, search for the railroad on Michael Taft's Blues Concordance (link on Weeniepedia) and list songs which mention it (yes the Concordance is not exhaustive, but does cover a lot) and then search on Wikipedia, where you can usually find the history of the original rail company, the report mark (by which euphemisms like "The Yellow Dog" arose) and the logo.

I'm gonna start with a few verses from Jefferson's "Sunshine Special" (as transcribed in Weeniepedia). I'll just cover one RR, the Katy, and leave the rest to others:

Gonna leave on the Sunshine Special, goin' in on the Santa Fe.
Leave on the Sunshine Special, goin' in on the Santa Fe.
Don't say nothin' about that Katy, because it's taken my brown from me.

Gonna ride that Kansas-Texas, ride on to San Antone.
Ride that Kansas-Texas, ride it on to San Antone.
Somebody's been tryin' to fire your engine, man, ever since you been gone.

Cotton Belt is a slow train, also that I&GN.
I say, the Cotton Belt's a slow train, also that I&GN.
If I leave Texas any more, I'm gonna leave on that L&N.

The Katy turns out to be the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, the original report mark being MKT. This was shortened to KT so much that the logo became "KATY"

The Katy ran several named passenger trains: the Texas Special; the Katy Limited; the Katy Flyer; and the Bluebonnet.

The Concordance also lists a song named "Katy Fly" by Elijah Jones, and Lemon Jeffersons "Bad Luck Blues".(Of course, the Katy was later popularized by Taj, and, low and behold, the mule didn't die. Ol' Taj just swung up on behind. Ah, the "happily ever after" '60s.)

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Rail Roadin' Some
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2015, 06:01:59 AM »
Well, thanks for that, Waxwing, that is a cool starter post!  It's especially neat to see the logo.  I'll try and come up with one soon.
All best,

Offline banjochris

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Re: Rail Roadin' Some
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2015, 09:11:08 AM »
I've never heard the "original" of this, but here's the NLCR version of "Timetable Blues," sung by John Cohen:

Timetable Blues
« Last Edit: June 10, 2015, 09:12:15 AM by banjochris »

Offline Lignite

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Re: Rail Roadin' Some
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2015, 11:18:20 AM »
Here is the original of Time Table Blues by Captain Appleblossom on Okeh 45373 from the fabulous 78 collection of Cary Ginnell. Nobody seems to have any info on Captain Appleblossom but Norm Cohen lists all of the railroad lines mentioned in the song:

T&P (Texas & Pacific); IGN (International Great Northern); Nickel Plate (New York, Chicago & St. Louis); Iron Mountain (probably St. Louis, Iron Mountain, and Southern); MStL (Minneapolis & St. Louis); MKT (Missouri, Kansas & Texas); P&LE (Pittsburg & Lake Erie); B&O (Baltimore & Ohio); IC (Illinois Central); C&S (Colorado & Southern); Big Four (originally Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis & Chicago; later Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis); C&A (Chicago and Alton); L&N (Louisville & Nashville); CB&Q (Chicago, Burlington & Quincy); T&NO (Texas & New Orleans); Denver Road (probably Denver & Rio Grande); Lackawanna; Cotton Belt; Santa Fe; Lehigh Valley; Wabash; Pennsylvania.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2015, 11:21:06 AM by Lignite »


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