Appalachia Music

I Hate That Passenger Train

Freight Train

For today’s Pickin and Grinnin in the Kitchen Spot I’m sharing another video from our Month of the Train Series over on our Youtube Channel. I’ll let Paul give you the details.


Here’s one that most folks may not have heard. I couldn’t find it by anyone else on YouTube. Unlike most train songs, which express admiration for the train, this one expresses resentment!

When we were kids Tipper belonged to a record club. Think it might have been RCA. She could buy 8 or 10 tapes, and later CD’s, for a few cents each. The only catch was that she had to promise to buy a certain number of other recordings at full price within a specified time period.

Whereas I would have probably bought only for myself, she would often ask me to pick something from the catalog that I would like, or she would get something that she figured I would like. One was a CD with about 25 old traditional tunes on it.

I remember the cd had Grandpa Jones singing a song called “Chewing Gum,” a bluegrass band singing “Dig a Hole in the Middle,” and one of the Stonemans singing “Mule Skinner Blues.”

Anyway, this song was on that CD. Unfortunately, I cannot remember who was credited as the singer or band. It seems like it was a brother group. From the instrumentation and the scratchiness of the recording, I speculate that the recording was from the 30’s. Pap and I immediately liked the song because the one-liner lyrics made us giggle.

The one where the speaker wishes death upon the train crew hit me from out of left field! We both thought it funny. I remember, however, we sang it one time for his younger brother, Henry, and Henry thought the song crossed the line. I remember him saying, “Whoa now. I don’t know about that.” We still thought it funny and continued singing it for a while till we forgot about the song altogether.

I don’t know what became of the CD, neither does Tipper. The only other time I heard the song was in a live show when David Holt and Doc Watson did it. I think Doc may have added the quick G chord. I think the original may have been a two-chord song. Tipper (playing bass out of frame), Chatter (chording the Dove out of frame), and Katie (plucking the fiddle), had not learned the song, although Tip had a vague memory of the song from the CD. I drug out the 12-string to give it a different feel, and we stuck to our one-take rule. We hope you enjoyed it. I apologize about the camera positioning, which was too close to the bass and cut part of my head off (no loss there) 🙂 Lyrics are below:

Where were you when the train left town? Standin’ on the corner, head a hanging down. I hate that train that carried my girl from town. Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey…

Yonder goes the train. Somebody call it back. She left town with my money sack. Oh I hate that train that carried my girl from town. Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey…

Hello, Central. Give me 609. I need to talk to that gal of mine. Oh I hate that train that carried my girl from town. Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey…

Coffee on the table. Rations gettin’ cold. Some fool rounder stole my jelly roll. Oh I hate that train that carried my girl from town. Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey…

Well I wish to my soul that train would wreck, Kill the engineer, break the fireman’s neck. I hate that train that carried my girl from town. Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey…

I hope you enjoyed the video. I had totally forgotten about the song until Paul said he wanted us to do it for the Month of the Train Series and now I can’t get it out of my mind. So fun to play and so fun to listen to…even if there are ill intentions to the engineer and fireman 🙂 I’m betting the song will end up in our line up for 2019 performances at least I’m hoping it does!


Subscribe for FREE and get a daily dose of Appalachia in your inbox

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    December 2, 2018 at 10:54 pm

    I used to pick a tune called “dig a hole in the meadow” or “ darlin Cory” but I never heard of dig a hole in the middle. I’ll have to look that up. Doc Watson did a version of “the train that carried my girl from town”. A good one.

  • Reply
    December 2, 2018 at 9:53 pm

    My train story: When I was in Kentucky in Seminary we lived in Seminary Village. There were 235 apartments with train tracks along one side. Someone did a survey and found that by the end of four or five years of school the couples near the tracks had an average of 2.5 children while those on the other side hade an average of ,75 children. The train went by about 5 AM and blew the whistle. The reason – Those near the tracks were awakened and couldn’t get back to sleep. It was too early to get up and too cold to get up and get the birth control. We lived in the middle and didn’t add to either average.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 2, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    I like the song, it has a sassy air to it that appeals to me. Good job!

  • Reply
    December 2, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    Hi Tipper,mighty good singing,picking, and grining!!!Reminded of a story I was told about my late husbend and his cousin leaving Harlan county Ky on a freight train for Cincinnati Ohio,in 1951 .Richard yelled his good byes and a ” Hello World”!!God Bless. Belva-Jean

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 2, 2018 at 8:46 am

    Doc Watson and David Holt did that song and was amazing but there was something missing in their version. A fingerpicking, fiddle playing, fine featured filly.

  • Reply
    December 2, 2018 at 8:27 am

    Loved the train whistle in the beginning, the singing, and the catchy tune, but I don’t ever remember hearing that train song before.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    December 2, 2018 at 8:11 am

    That was good!!! Woke me up better than a cup of coffee.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    December 2, 2018 at 7:39 am

    Have ridden diesel trains all over Japan and Great Britain but the greatest ride was the steam train from Bryson City to Nantahala. It was very nostalgic and the rain made it even more realistic. Probably gonna do it again!

  • Reply
    Steve Cox
    December 2, 2018 at 7:13 am


    You will find the tune under the title of ” I Hate The Train That Took My Girl From Town”.A newer version is by Doug Van Gundy and Paul Gartner. CD title Born Old

  • Reply
    Steve Cox
    December 2, 2018 at 7:06 am

    Tipper you will find the song under the title “The Train That Took My Girl From Town” Doug Van Gundy & Paul Gartner. Title of CD is Born Old.

    • Reply
      December 2, 2018 at 7:10 am

      Steve-thank you 🙂

    • Reply
      paul wilson
      December 2, 2018 at 11:17 am

      Steve, thanks so much for your comment. Using the title you provided, one can find hundreds of performances of the song on YouTube! Seems like one could literally spend days listening to all of them! After a few hours, I gave up on finding the original, but I did find many excellent versions! I like them all. I couldn’t find Gundy and Gartner’s version, but I did find them playing a cool fiddle tune. This one is probably my favorite performance of the song so far:
      It’s really interesting that the vast majority of the versions on YouTube follow the altered wording and arrangement Doc Watson created (it appears in the late 60’s). Doc always seemed to have a way of polishing and improving old songs and giving them new life. Second to that seems to be versions following or adhering to the Flatt and Scruggs version. I found only one version in the ones I listened to on YouTube that actually says “hate.” All the rest I listened to say, “Hey, that train that carried my girl from town.” This isn’t actually a complete sentence or something that expresses a complete thought. Flatt and Scruggs made it into a sentence by adding a sort of Appalachian past perfect verb: “Hey, that train done carried my girl from town.” If I could locate the version that I believe to be the original (very scratchy :-), version, I’m positive that it said “hate,” rather than “hey.” “Hey” also would not make sense because it was preceded by the personal pronoun “I” in that recording. To me, it’s always cool to trace changes in lyrics over time. Sometimes the changes are intentional to render improvement, and sometimes they’re done because the original lyrics were misremembered or misheard. Sometimes, it is difficult to understand what was being said in an old recording. The most famous example I know of where this happened, is when The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band thought that Jerry Jeff Walker had said “as the smoke ran out” when he actually sang “as he spoke right out” in the song Mr. Bojangles. However, that could be an urban legend. I guess one would have to ask the Dirt Band themselves to know for sure. Thanks so much again for helping us research this song. I’ll go back to our YT channel and add the correct title in parenthesis. This will help our modest version show up among the others when people search for the song.

  • Reply
    dianna thomas
    December 2, 2018 at 6:51 am

    Love the train Sunday morning train song. Last weeks also. Your girl is so silly! Lol Sense of humor is the bmb these days! These train songs are making it very exciting to get to visit Bryson City this month for the 4th Polar Express trip with the GRANDbaby!!!

  • Reply
    December 2, 2018 at 6:11 am

    Good job, don’t believe I’ver ever heard it before, but it’s kinda catchy.

  • Leave a Reply