We were sitting at the Amity Street crossing, waiting to get into the Waterfront and watching daredevil pedestrians play chicken with the oncoming train. Bells were ringing and lights were flashing but there was the track team (I know, right?), crouching, looking left a good long time, then right, then breaking into as close to a broken field sprint as age and body mass allowed. Please, grandma, don’t get your shoe stuck in the track. Trains are something you have to deal with in the two-dimensional, plane geometry world. You either wait for them or try to beat them to the punch. The average person never has to wait for an airplane to go by. Or a boat.
Trains have a certain degree of romance about them too. Remember when Rick (Bogart) was standing in the rain at the Gare Du Nord and Sam handed him the Dear John from Ilsa? How about when the bad guys showed up in a cloud of steam and a screech of brakes in “High Noon”? Then there are all the famous songs about trains, like “Chattanooga Choo-choo” by Glenn Miller and “Midnight Special” by everybody from Leadbelly to Creedence.
It occurred to us that if we could come up with a hit song or two about our local railroading adventures, it might help invigorate the local economy and give us the aura of coolness we so richly deserve. We encourage you musical types to get busy composing. Meanwhile, having no personal ear for music, we’ve borrowed some familiar tunes and jazzed them up with lyrics that emphasize local themes.
Here’s one commemorating the above mentioned St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, to the tune of “Ruby (Don’t Take Your Love To Town)”
You loaded up your trailer, filled your tank, and hit the road,
Ochi, where you contemplating taking that big load?
The Amity Street crossing’s rough, as people coulda told ya,
Better head back to Mongolia
Of course, the all-time classic train-related tune is by the late, great, Johnny Cash. To the tune of “Folsom Prison Blues”
I hear the train a comin’
It’s rollin’ down the track
And I feel like I’ve been sittin’ here since Mario came back,
I’m stuck at 6th & Amity, while Summer turns to Fall,
Stay open, please, Bar Louie, I might just make last call.
Arlo Guthrie made this song famous back in the ‘70’s. To the tune of “City of New Orleans”
Ridin’ through the Borough of West Homestead,
Norfolk Southern, loaded down with freight,
A hundred cars at fifteen miles per hour,
You got to get here early or you have to wait
Good morning, commuting folks. How are you?
Say, don’t you know me? I’m the 8:15
I’m the train that’s keeping you from your first Starbucks,
And I won’t go any faster even if you scream
What do you think? Inspirational, right? But, you know, if songs won’t work, we could always look to another medium, like scary movies. How about “The Amity Street Horror”?
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