America By Rail Blog

posted on January 21, 2013

Where would the entertainment world be without trains? If you give it some thought, trains are much more than a means of transportation; they have been a big impact on pop culture in a variety of ways! From the main character of books like The Little Engine That Could, and Thomas the Tank Engine, to the setting of movies such as From Russia with Love and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, trains have played a major role in popular storylines over the years. The use of trains in pop culture extends beyond the book and movie industries though. Singers have belted out numerous songs about trains as well. Come aboard as we explore some of the most memorable.

Chattanooga Choo Choo by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra

Chattanooga Choo Choo was released in 1941 by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra and inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1996. Over the years, Chattanooga Choo Choo has been covered by several well-known artists including Regina Carter, Ray Charles, and Elvis Presley.

Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash

One of Johnny Cash’s many hits, Folsom Prison Blues was released in 1955 prior to being included on his debut album ‘With His Hot and Blue Guitar’ in 1957. After it’s re-release in 1968, Folsom Prison Blues topped the Billboard Hot Country Singles. 

The Loco-Motion by Little Eva

Little Eva’s single, The Loco-Motion, off her 1962 album, ‘Locomotion’ reached the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The Loco-Motion has been recorded by several artists, including one of the songwriters Carole King.   

Homeward Bound by Simon and Garfunkel

The second single from Simon and Garfunkel’s album ‘Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme,’ Homeward Bound, was written in a railway station. After its release in 1966, it maxed out at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

Casey Jones by Grateful Dead

Casey Jones was released on the Grateful Dead’s album, ‘Workingman’s Dead’ in 1970 and later released on multiple live albums. An actual railroad engineer named Casey Jones was the inspiration behind the song for writer Robert Hunter. 

Peace Train by Cat Stevens

Peaking at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1971, Peace Train, from the album ‘Teaser and the Firecat,’ was the first US Top 10 hit for Cat Stevens. Stevens later wrote and illustrated a children’s book with the characters from the album cover and titled it Teaser and the Firecat.

Love Train by The O’Jays

The O’Jays released their album ‘Back Stabbers’ in 1972 which included Love Train. In 1973, Love Train topped the R&B Singles and the Billboard Hot 100 charts. 

Long Train Runnin’ by The Doobie Brothers

Long Train Runnin’ was performed live for years with various titles before it was recorded for The Doobie Brothers third album, ‘The Captain and Me.’ The second single off the album reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1973.

Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight & the Pips

Midnight Train to Georgia was initially recorded by Cissy Houston before it was released as a single by Gladys Knight & the Pips from their ‘Imagination’ album in 1973. The song became the first number one hit for Gladys Knight & the Pips on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1973.

You Never Called Me by My Name by David Allan Coe

Song writers Steve Goodman and John Prine wrote and recorded You Never Even Called Me by My Name before it was released as a single from David Allan Coe’s 1975 album, ‘Once Upon a Rhyme.’ Goodman added an extra verse to the version Coe recorded for his album to incorporate five elements Coe considered necessary for it to be the perfect country song.  

Downtown Train by Rod Stewart (Cover)

Originally released on Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs album in 1985, Downtown Train didn’t become popular until Rod Stewart’s cover in 1989. Stewart received a Grammy nomination for his cover that reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1989. 

Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show

Wagon Wheel was released on Old Crow Medicine Show’s first studio album ‘O.C.M.S.’ in 2004. Old Crow Medicine Show member Ketcham Secor and Bob Dylan are credited as co-authors of the song. Secor wrote the verses for Wagon Wheel to go along with the chorus and melody Dylan wrote many years prior.

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