Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Gimme Gimme More

Here's, from the Fat Chords X-Mas Bonus, Me First doing Steve Goodman's "City of New Orleans." The City of New Orleans is a train that runs from Chicago to New Orleans. Service was canceled south of Memphis after Katrina but has since resumed.
The City of New Orleans began life as the daytime companion train to the all-Pullman car Panama Limited that also traveled the IC's mailine from New Orleans, Louisiana to Chicago, Illinois. The daytime train was significantly cheaper. This train was a major part of the large migration of African Americans from the U.S. South during the early 20th century, as it was one of the cheaper transportation options available (wikipedia).
Regarding the song-
City of New Orleans is a folk song written by Steve Goodman. Goodman got the idea while traveling on the eponymous train on a visit to his wife's family's house. He performed the song for Arlo Guthrie in the Quiet Knight, a bar in Chicago, and Guthrie agreed to add it to his repertoire. The song proved a hit for Guthrie in 1972, and is now more closely associated with him despite that Goodman performed it until his death in 1984 (wikipedia).
Original Lyrics

My favorite part is "And the sons of engineers/Ride their father's magic carpet made of steam" cos I'm a sap (and it weds the technical fascination with trains with the childhood romanticism of trains); I also like "I'm your native son." It's a nice, nostalgic description of an overnight train ride. Which seemed to me when I went from NYC to FLA to tend towards obnoxiously fluctuating temperature and a bad back, but still worth it. We ended up sleeping in the dining car so we could lay down, then got woken up at 5am by some woman who told us we had to clear out cos people were gonna wanna start eating. . .

I'll try to get a copy of the original, but my source is currently trying to write a paper on some Spanish explorer and doesn't seem up for harassment right now.

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