Appalachia Music

It’s Train Month on the Blind Pig and The Acorn Youtube Channel!

Month of train songs

Today’s post was written by Paul.


We are declaring November to be Train Month on our Blind Pig and The Acorn Youtube Channel. There is no national train month that we could ascertain. Once upon a time, Amtrack designated May as National Train Month, but they discontinued the designation after a few years.

We got the idea of doing a video series from Gary Chapman, who does a hymn per week on his Youtube channel. I didn’t want to copy him completely by doing hymns, although I know enough hymns to keep me busy for years. I asked myself, what’s another subject that is widely covered in Appalachian music? I soon thought of trains.

I quickly realized after doing a count, that I probably know at least 30 or 40 train songs. Originally, I wanted to do one a day for an entire month. I then realized that even though I have enough material for that, I don’t have enough time to film and upload every day. We decided to just do one per week, and that way, we can do the train series annually.

We also decided that every song would be filmed and uploaded in just one take. This would leave some mistakes, but would save time and might lead to performances that were spontaneous. We also decided it would be fun to feature some of our other musical friends and acquaintances, having them join us on songs that they knew of but perhaps had never played before.

Tipper and Chatter had never heard this song before. I told them the chord pattern and the number of beats in each chord and they took right off on it.

We hope you like the series. If you’re not a member of Youtube its free to join. Once you have an account on Youtube you can subscribe to all manner of channels, including the Blind Pig and The Acorn Youtube Channel for free.

Here’s info on the first Train Song – The Wreck of Old Number Nine

Performed with one half of the Pressley Girls (Chatter) on guitar, and her mom Tipper on Bass in E flat.

I heard Doc Watson do this song in the mid 90’s on Wayne Erbsen’s “Country Roots” radio program on WCQS in Asheville, NC. It is one of my favorite train songs, mostly because of the lyrics. Doc picked the verse very similarly to how I pick it in this video. He or Jack Lawrence also played the chorus the last time around, which I meant to do in this video but forgot. According to Wikipedia, it was written by Carson Robison in 1927. Other than Doc, the only other version I’ve heard is Jim Reeves (just heard tonight on YouTube). I don’t know if this song documents a real event or if it is completely fiction.

Lyrics: On a dark stormy night, not a star was in sight As the North wind came howling down the line. There stood a brave engineer with his sweetheart so dear And his orders to pull old Number Nine.

She kissed him goodbye with a tear in her eye, And the joy in his heart he couldn’t hide. As he left there that night, his whole world seemed right for Tomorrow she’d be his blushing bride.

The wheels hummed a song as the train rolled along, As the black smoke came pouring from the stack. The headlight a-gleam seemed to brighten his dream Of tomorrow when he’d be goin’ back.

As he sped around the hill, his brave heart stood still For a headlight was shining in his face. He whispered a prayer as he threw on the air For he knew this would be his final race.

In the wreckage he was found, lying there on the ground He asked them to raise his weary head His breath slowly went as this message he sent To a maiden who thought she would be wed.

“There’s a little white home that I built for our own Where I dreamed we’d be happy, you and I, But I leave it to you for I know you’ll be true Til we meet at the Golden Gate, goodbye.”.

I hope you enjoyed the post from Paul and the video to! Even though I hear his guitar picking at least once or twice a week it still blows me away sometimes.

Be sure to check out the month of the train over on our Blind Pig and The Acorn Youtube Channel. Song number 2 is already up!




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  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 13, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    Has Paul seen this?

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    November 12, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    Great job y’all! Man, that boy can pick a guitar and “sang” to boot!!

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    November 12, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    I don’t know many train songs but “The Wreck of Old 97” has always been one of my favorites. Jimmie Rogers’ “Waiting for a Train” is also a favorite. Who could forget Johnny Cash’s version of “Folsom Prison Blues”? How about “Hey, Porter!”
    Paul is absolutely amazing as a guitarist … amazing!

  • Reply
    November 12, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    Oh, my Daddy used to sing this, and probably his Dad, too- great job!

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    November 12, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    That was great!

  • Reply
    November 12, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    That was Great, with Paul’s singing and playing, and You and Chatter playing too. The Wreck of Old Number Nine is a song my Mama sung I learned to keep time on the Piano. When we were in Atlanta, I remember Johnny Cash doing that song in his ‘Train Series”.
    Mama’s daddy, Hugh Passmore was the section Crew Superintendent from Asheville to Murphy way before I was born. Perhaps that’s why Grandma Delia fed so many Hobos back then. She had 16 children of her own, but folks had Big Families back then. I really miss her stories! …Ken

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 12, 2017 at 11:42 am

    “Ahhh-choo”…..snif, snif…listening again and watching the video…just wonderful Paul, Chatter and Tipper!
    Thank you very much
    PS…I’ll get over it…been a long, long time since I had a Fall cold….

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 12, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I sit here today…having myself a “pity-party” over the “hitch In my giddy-up” that has plagued me all week. Then I read your post written by Paul and it put a little “pep in my step” this morning! I have no “idee” where in the world I got this cold, could have been when we took the grandchild to the pediatric clinic, a “germ haven” this time of year! ha
    Anyhow, I loved this post and the video as well. Tipper I have noticed this before and meant to say something to you…I don’t know if you have heard of Marty Robbins! You are a youngster! There are times that Paul’s dialect, phrasing in his singing and playing bring back memories to me of Marty Robbins…I love Paul’s singing and playing despite the “co-winky-dinky” of how much they sound alike!
    I loved Marty Robbins from my era so much when I heard the similarity in the video that…I looked up online to see if he had ever put “The Wreck of Old Number Nine” on vinyl…he did! His version is much slower tempo than Paul’s version however, I love them both! Paul is an exceptional musician, what a gift he has and of the technology that he has acquired…wonderful!
    All I can say is thank you and Paul for this post today…Keep up the great work! We’re listening!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    November 12, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Great idea. James, my son, loves train songs. We’ll be getting into this.
    Also, we have been listening to the new CD. Since Wednesday, we’ve all been walking around singing “Give the dog a bath.” It’s our first Pressley Girls ear worm!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 12, 2017 at 10:14 am

    I’ve heard that song many times but with slightly different lyrics. The chorus in my version goes something like:
    I was going down the road,
    doing 90 miles an hour.
    When the chain on my bicycle broke.
    They found me found in the grass,
    with the handlebars up my (bleep).
    I was punctured to death by a spoke.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2017 at 10:11 am

    This was a great way to start my day. Great playing!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    November 12, 2017 at 10:03 am

    Great job, and great selection. Susan’s father was a railroad bridge designer, and dearly loved trains. When they sold the home Susan and her siblings grew up in (all the girls were grown and gone), they bought a smaller home with a train track not far in back. Whenever a train came by, he would run out back just to watch it go by, especially if the grandchildren were there, and the locomotive engineer would blow the whistle for them.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 12, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Well, Mr Paul is just full of good ideas. I like the train month and I like the little pig train logo, I expect that is a Tipper idea. Paul did a really nice job on that very first train song! Good post too!

  • Reply
    Brian P. Blake
    November 12, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Sung to tune of “The Holly and the Ivy,” Arranged in minor key.
    William E. Blake (1870-1895), R.I.P.
    Cowboy, gambler, and outlaw with the Bill Doolin Gang of bank and train robbers in Oklahoma Territory. Shot Dead by U.S. Marshals on the Cimarron River, 4 April 1895.
    One Friday night in April a Rock Island train, southbound,
    Met Bill Doolin’s gang at Dover, near the big Kingfisher Bend.
    The pay-roll safe stood riddled, Express passengers picked clean ̶
    But Doolin’s Wild Bunch of outlaws had acted its last scene.
    Railroad deputies and Pinkertons and U.S. Marshals knew
    The gang would trace the Cimarron to keep pursuit in view.
    West of Ames the posse found them There on guard against bushwhack,
    A sheriff’s cousin, twenty-four, they gunned down Tulsa Jack.
    Marshals Banks and Prather crossed Jack’s arms upon his chest
    And propped him up in Hennessey, a big-game hunters’ jest.
    The town paper snapped his portrait, for its archives hold a print
    Of an old-time wet-plate photo, and Jack spoke to me from it.
    “I started out a cowhand on Tom Waggoner’s ‘3-D’ spread.
    “God, that’s a lonesome life! ̶ I turned to Lady Luck instead.
    “But then I lost, and debts came due.” I met the outlaw’s gaze.
    “Cash-on-the-barrel, fast,” said Jack. “A man of honor pays.
    “Bill Doolin was in Tulsa, countin’ trains a-passin’ through.
    “ ‘C’mon,’ says Bill, ‘There’s pickings fer a fast young gun like you.’
    “So I joined up with Doolin. It seemed an easy win.
    “But once you’ve stepped outside the law, you can’t turn home again.
    “I’d have liked a pretty daughter, and perhaps a little son,
    “But branding as an outlaw puts your family on the run.
    “I did wrong, I can’t deny it; I won’t hide what I am;
    “But you folks who sit in comfort ought to know I died a man.
    “You think I’m dead and gone,” he said, “That my times are long past.
    “Hell, when you’re dealt a losing hand, better to fold it fast.
    “I played life for high stakes,” said Jack, “But this I’ll tell you true:
    “The game ain’t over yet, my friend, ’cause I live on in you.”
    Although he robbed and plundered, just to gamble what he stole,
    Yet his soul fulfilled a mission, writ on God’s eternal scroll ̶
    Curse him and revile him, even mock his nameless grave,
    But for all we know, as sinners, it is Tulsa Jack who’s saved.
    By John P.T. Blake, Tulsa Jack’s first cousin three times removed.
    Shrewsbury, New Jersey, 30 July 1996

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 12, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Trains make a good subject. There are miles and miles of standard-gage ‘ghost railroad’ out there. If the logging and mining narrow-gage railroads are included there are, I estimate, thousands of miles through the mountains. And especially on the narrow gage lines derailments happened, with or without the train rolling over.
    Up until the 1960’s there were a lot of partings and homecomings at the train station, especially soldiers in WWII. Small wonder trains are featured in song and story.
    The Amtrak Crescent Line from New York to New Orleans stops here in Gainesville. It’s odd though because nobody is there until just before train time.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    November 12, 2017 at 8:48 am

    My father was the building and bridge inspector for the Philadelphia Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad and so I had the privelage of riding free.
    As a child I made many trips across the state from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh to visit my aunt. The conductors would look after me .
    There was an historic site known as the horseshoe curve near Altoona where if you sat in a middle car you could see both ends of the train at one time.
    The conductor would always make sure I had the best seat.
    So many great memories riding the rails. I am sure I heard every railroad song available during the 40’s and 50’s.
    Thanks Tipper for the memories.

  • Reply
    Mike Norris
    November 12, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Suggestion:”The L & N Don’t Stop Here Anymore.”
    My grandfather was an engineer on the L & N. Killed in a railroad accident in Blackey, Kentucky, in 1934

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    November 12, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Nicely done. I loved watching uncle Paul’s fingers dancing on those frets. And the shoes on the rail added a down home touch that made me wish I was sitting in a rocker right there on the porch.

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