Appalachia Music

Another Thing that Happens in November

The Streamline Cannon Ball

Along with Thankful November we also hosts a Train Month on the Blind Pig and The Acorn Youtube Channel during November.

Paul started the series a few Novembers ago and has been chugging along on it again this year. If you’d like to read the details about the series jump back to this post.

Here’s what Paul said on the first train song of November.

“It’s time once again for our train song series. This time around, it may be hard to find any musicians to hook up with (thanks to Covid), but I’ll try. If not, I’ll be riding the train solo. 🙂

To start us off, I videoed one that I learned from Mac Wiseman.

I heard this song on Wayne Erbsen’s Country Roots show on WCQS out of Asheville in the late 90’s. Looking online, I found that this song is very old, dating back to the late 1800’s.

That explains some of the vocabulary, such as “berth” in reference to a place to sleep aboard the train. It also contained the word “fondled,” which I replaced with “cuddled,” since that word now has negative connotations.

Mac didn’t sing the last verse, probably because including it makes for a very long song. I included it not only because it completes the tale, but also because it puts things in a more positive light.

The passengers were initially insensitive and put their foots in their mouths, but once everyone knew of the tragedy, they were sympathetic and eager to help. It’s interesting that the “maiden” is a sympathetic character in this train song, much like in “The Lightning Express” that I did a couple of years ago.

If I ever do a tear-jerker series, Mac Wiseman will be a great source to draw from. He seems to have been king of the tear-jerkers and didn’t shy away from very sad songs, including many about children.

“In the Baggage Coach Ahead” also has a middle verse that comments on the couple’s brief, happy marriage before the death of the wife. You can find many versions on YouTube, including both studio and live versions from Mac.”

I hope you enjoyed the first video of this year’s Train Series even though it’s a real tear-jerker.

Tipper

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Bob Dalsemer
    November 15, 2020 at 9:07 pm

    Well sung and played, Paul!!

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    November 15, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    My friend, the late songwriter Mickey Newbury, loved train songs and wrote quite a few, my favorite I guess is ‘Frisco Depot or San Francisco Mabel Joy. We jammed a lot and did a lot of train songs….thanks for helping keep train songs alive…..am in Bryson City almost every Monday hear and see both the diesel and steam trains running!!

  • Reply
    Sue Gregory
    November 15, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    A sad, but beautiful ballad it is, but the light of hope speaks loudly. Thank you for sharing and also informing me of you You Tibe channel. I really enjoy your blog even though I was raised in Tidewater, VA, my Appalachian roots go back to the south western VA town of Grundy, in Buchanan County. When I visited my Mamaw every summer, these were the tunes faithfully played on her stand up radio; she never owned a television. Sometimes now, I wish I did not either. God Bless your family.

  • Reply
    Sue Gregory
    November 15, 2020 at 1:33 pm

    Assad, but beautiful ballad it is, but the light of hope speaks loudly. Thank you for sharing and also informing me of you You Tibe channel. I really enjoy your blog even though I was raised in Tidewater, VA, my Appalachian roots go back to the south western VA town of Grundy, in Buchanan County. When I visited my Mamaw every summer, these were the tunes faithfully played on her stand up radio; she never owned a television. Sometimes now, I wish I did not either. God Bless your family.

  • Reply
    Kenneth Ryan
    November 15, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    That was a wonderful job on the song, Paul! Sounded a lot like Mac Wiseman singing. That song is chock full of chord changing, and I’m always amazed that you can learn all the lyrics so well that you never break time trying to remember them or have the lyrics on paper in front of you. You are truly a great musician and I find myself a bit envious of your talents. Thank you for doing the song for us.

  • Reply
    betty stephenson
    November 15, 2020 at 12:18 pm

    just love this song takes me back to my child hood mum and dad played this sort of old country music all the time thanks for the lovely memories

  • Reply
    Cynthia
    November 15, 2020 at 11:36 am

    Such a beautiful, sad song. I have not heard it until now, and Paul played and sang it so well.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    November 15, 2020 at 11:29 am

    Ron Stephens said it perfectly. My father worked on the Pennsylvania Railroad all of his life. He was the building and bridge inspector for the whole Philadelphia division. He crawled over and under every bridge in that area. I did get to ride free until I was 18 so I spent lots of time on trains. I got to know the conductors and my Mom would put me on the train in Harrisburg and My Aunt would meet the train in Pittsburgh. I don’t think you could do that today. I love train songs.

  • Reply
    Jackie
    November 15, 2020 at 9:58 am

    I left out “Rest” in whole or the ….of the story.

  • Reply
    Jackie
    November 15, 2020 at 9:54 am

    I listened to the song a couple days ago on You Tube, From the title I knew most of the story that the other passengers didn’t know. Why are we so insensitive to situations and people around us? When we know the whole or the rest of the we show sympathy or empathy and try to help but without that we tend to only dwell on our own comfort. Are we selfish?

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 15, 2020 at 9:50 am

    Should have titled this “Woeful Words from the Woodpile!”

  • Reply
    Mary Anne Johnson
    November 15, 2020 at 8:46 am

    I so enjoyed listening to Paul’s train song this mornin. What a beautiful , clear voice he has and his pickin sounded just delightful. It was a treat to hear him sing.

  • Reply
    Randy
    November 15, 2020 at 8:33 am

    I enjoyed the song and the guitar picking. I always liked Mac Wiseman. A song my father in law liked to sing was Life Is Like A Mountain Railroad. I guess this is a hymn and a train song. He would sing this church a lit of times. He also liked a Gibson guitar.

    • Reply
      Cynthia
      November 15, 2020 at 11:37 am

      I like Life is Like a Mountain Railroad, too.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 15, 2020 at 8:29 am

    Wonder why trains are so much more romantic than planes. Reckon it is partly because trains are ‘grounded’ and within everyone’s experience in one way or another; from waiting at the crossing to hearing the horn in the night. And then since those days we’ve withdrawn into ourselves much more and that trend is continuing. We’re like closed up flower buds now in the presence of strangers except for those few among us who never met a stranger.

    • Reply
      Randy
      November 15, 2020 at 12:19 pm

      Ron, to me the sound of a train blowing it’s horn is a lonesome sound, similar to a whipper will or the cooing of a dove at sunset. When growing up, the nearest train track was in the small town of Honea Path, SC which is 15 miles away, I could hear the train going through HP in the early morning hours. I still live in the same place, but no train runs through the town anymore, the tracks have been taken up. I would always wonder were it was headed. By the way all of the home folks pronounce it as Honey Path or as some call it Sugar Foot.

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