Top 10 Train Songs
The recent release of Metallica’s 'Hate Train’ reminded us that there have been a whole lot of songs over the years that have involved a “train,” either lyrically or in the song titles. Our apologies if you came here hoping that you’d see songs like ‘Drops Of Jupiter’ — this list isn’t about that Train, but instead, it’s all about 10 of the best locomotive-driven train songs that fuel our musical engines every time that we hear them!
‘Slow Train Coming’ found Dylan in the midst of a spiritual awakening and as always, he put his feelings into song, assisted this time around by Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits, who played lead guitar on the sessions. While the presence of Knopfler (who may or may not play on the live version streaming to the left) gave the album version a bit of a Dire Straits feel, ‘Slow Train’ is unmistakably Dylan, something that is revealed in depth in his concert airings of the track. He sings with clarity and great amounts of conviction, with his emotional investment in the material very apparent.
The reactivated Page/Plant union produced one of Robert Plant’s most achingly sorrowful songs, in which he remembers his son Karac who passed unexpectedly in the late ‘70s at the age of five. You can feel the pain as Plant sings of the ‘Blue Train’ that crawls across his heart as the rain continues to fall. “Light of my life / where have you gone,” Plant wonders aloud in the gloom illuminated only by the quietly tasteful guitar from Jimmy Page. The reunion of Page and Plant was all too brief, but ‘Blue Train’ is a lingering reminder of how good it was.
JOE – PUT THE LONDON CALLING ALBUM COVER HERE INSTEAD OF THE 45 Out of all of the train songs, this one has the distinction that the actual title of the song never pops up in the lyrics. But musically, The Clash certainly capture the chugging feel, so this train is most certainly not in vain. ‘Train In Vain’ was a late addition to the ‘London Calling’ album added as a last minute bonus track and it’s a good thing — ‘Train’ ended up being a Top 40 hit for the band.
The boot knocking shuffle of ‘Train, Train’ rolls at a feverish clip, driven by a man’s love who has departed on a “midnight train to Memphis.” Frontman Rickey Medlocke’s grandfather Shorty penned the Southern rock classic and also contributes the 36-second harmonica prelude simulating the sound of a steam whistle as the locomotive leaves the station and heads down the tracks, building in intensity to the beginning of the actual song.
The posthumous release of ‘Valleys of Neptune’ in 2010 brought a wealth of new previously unreleased material from Jimi Hendrix into the public eye for the first time officially. ‘Hear My Train A Comin’’ is one of the gems of the set, a slow-burning seven-and-a-half-minute jam that finds Hendrix, bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell really laying it down. Although it deceptively seems to end at the six minute mark, Hendrix ambles on with another minute plus of feedback-laden pleasure.
Some of the very best train songs actually make you visualize a train as you’re listening to them. ‘Locomotive Breath’ is one of those songs and it’s safe to say that if you ever heard this train coming, you’d be quick to move away from the tracks. Ian Anderson uses ‘Locomotive’ to paint the picture of a man whose train is clearly off the tracks as his life continues to unravel on every level, with seemingly no hope for a good tomorrow.
‘Rock N Roll Train’ is the sonic proof that you can never count AC/DC out of the game. After a nearly 10 year absence from recording, the band came barreling back with ‘Train,’ perhaps one of the most classic ready-made AC/DC rockers ever. The moments for air guitar riffing are plentiful throughout and Brian Johnson's gritty vocals have never sounded better.
Ozzy Osbourne’s maniacal laughter that accompanies his invitation inviting “All Aboard” is your first clue that the trip that you’re about to take on Ozzy’s ‘Train’ might be a little bit left of center. The careening guitar work from Randy Rhoads further adds to the ‘Crazy’ feeling, although Osbourne’s lyrical subject matter actually has nothing to do with insanity, but instead, it’s his commentary on the Cold War.
‘Nighttrain’ was inspired by the voodoo brew of the same name that was GN’R’s swill of choice during their formative years as a group. Axl Rose offered his own endorsement of the drink on stage by telling fans that ‘Nighttrain’ will ” f— you up twice as bad as Thunderbird and it’s a lot cheaper.” While he might have moved on to more expensive brew since then, ‘Nighttrain’ still packs one hell of a power punch.
Never mind that ‘Train’ had already been covered by the Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin — Aerosmith turned out what is arguably the definitive version with the help of Alice Cooper guitarists Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter, who contributed the blazing guitars heard on the track. Aerosmith had been performing ‘Train’ live and wanted to record it in that setting to capture the same energy, but they instead cut it in the studio and flew in crowd noise to create the concert-like feel.