Nick Cave – O Children There’s so many great songs about the freedom train to heaven I wanted to include. This and Curtis Mayfield’s People Get Ready I reckon are the best, and this one fit better with my other choices. (Cave tops my underlauded songwriters list)
Elbow – Station Approach is about going home to Manchester, the band’s hometown. This is literally about approaching the station he’s going to get off the train at, but homecomings are always emotional.
Robyn Hitchcock – I Often Dream of Trains is one of those quirky alt songs the British love so much. There’s so much symbolism in this you could make an art film out of it.
Half Man Half Biscuit – Time Flies By (When You’re A Driver Of A Train) gives us a little humour, which is HMHB’s stock in trade. If I knew my driver was stoned, I’d jump.
Ray Wylie Hubbard – Train Yard is from his excellent new album Grifter’s Hymnal. No list of train songs from me will be without some Texas red dirt country-blues. This one rocks.
Seasick Steve & The Level Devils – Hobo Blues is barely recognizable as the Big Bill Broonzy song. Jon Spencer and R L Burnside invented the application of loops, dubs and other modern techniques to blues standards, and I love it. It’s so vibrant and energized.
Amanda Shires – When You Need A Train It Never Comes. This is what I wrote last year about Amanda: “You hear that she’s country and kinda know what’s coming next, except when it comes it wasn’t quite what you expected but kinda was once you think about it.”
Hugh Masekela – Stimela, which means coal train. It’s not just North America and England that have train lore.
Jimmy Smith – G’won Train, ’cause you gotta have swing in a train playlist and Smith’s jazz has a twist – big band plus organ.
Robert Earl Keen – Whenever Kindness Fails. I wanted to end with this one because it also isn’t quite what it first appears. Sounds like a traditional tale of a guy on a cross-country rail journey, ‘cept this one kills any fellow passengers who piss him off. And, let’s face it, after a few days’ train travel, you BLOODY WELL WOULD, WOULDN’T YOU.