Railroad Songs

Discussion related to railroads/trains that show up in TV shows, commercials, movies, literature (books, poems and more), songs, the Internet, and more... Also includes discussion of well-known figures in the railroad industry or the rail enthusiast hobby.

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railroad songs

Postby bill haithcoat » Mon Feb 28, 2005 2:52 pm

Aa3rt---many thanks for your prompt reply regarding the Pan American song.

Now, I have another question. I know that in the late 40's a radio station in Nashville recorded the Pan's whistle live every afternoon when it blew through town. This is alluded to in the song.


My question. What about when the train was late? Did they record the whistle live for it when it was late? Or did they just dub in the whistle at the scheduled time regardless? I actually have read the answer to this but have forgotten.
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Postby Aa3rt » Mon Feb 28, 2005 10:41 pm

Bill-I'm guessing that the station you are referring to was (is) WSM, a powerhouse Nashville station that billed itself (and maybe still does) as "The Voice of the Grand Ole' Opry". I believe that the "train whistle" was actually a harmonica. I stand to be corrected by a more learned poster.

A song that has some great harmonica work that sounds much like a locomotive is Cream's "Train Time". As a child of the 60's I listened to "that horrid rock music" but even my father liked the train sounds in that one. :wink:
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Postby BR&P » Mon Feb 28, 2005 11:32 pm

No, Art, WSM did in fact have a remote microphone at a location I don't recall. The train was so often on time that I don't know what they did when it was late. But it was real, not studio imitation. Another excuse to dig thru 1940's era RAILROAD magazines - I know I've got it somewhere.
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Postby Aa3rt » Tue Mar 01, 2005 9:32 am

BR&P-thanks for the correction. A little more research (surfing) yielded this link to the Nashville Tennessean with more information (but still no clue as to what transpired when the train was late):

http://tennessean.com/learn-nashville/archives/05/01/31346829.shtml?Element_ID=31346829

All those 40's era Railroad magazines I grew up reading are at my father's house in northwest PA-not easily accessible, much to the delight of my wife. :wink:
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railraod songs

Postby bill haithcoat » Wed Mar 02, 2005 8:24 am

Many, many thanks for all the responses I have gotten to this. I had no idea my quesiton would yield so much interest And if anybody does find out what happened when it was late, all the better....but I am very pleased with this much info.
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Re: Railroad Songs

Postby Noel Weaver » Tue Dec 15, 2015 10:22 pm

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Re: Railroad Songs

Postby Aa3rt » Wed Dec 16, 2015 4:20 am

Thanks Noel! That's the first post in this thread in over 10 years! I can't recall if Youtube was active when this thread first started, however since there was mention of the song "Pan American" in a couple of previous posts, here's the Seldom Scene's version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeSMR1gV5qs
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Re: Railroad Songs

Postby Matt Johnson » Mon Jan 23, 2017 7:39 pm

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Re: Railroad Songs

Postby CarterB » Mon Jan 23, 2017 8:18 pm

On August 15, 1933, the "Pan-American" burst over the WSM airwaves each day at 5:08pm with a whistle and a roar. People paused expectantly as the announcer at radio station WSM in Nashville said, "We take you now to a point 12 miles south of Nashville to hear the actual sound of the L&N crack passenger train, the "Pan-American," as it passes the 878-foot tower of WSM. Nashvillians and listeners from all across the South and Midwest set their clocks by the sound.

http://ctr.trains.com/~/media/files/pdf ... erican.pdf
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Re: Railroad Songs

Postby NashuaActon&Boston » Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:26 am

It's always a good bet to check out the Alan/John Lomax Folk Songs of North America series. There are numerous editions of these books - collected folk songs, the father and son Lomax team were "field collectors", American ethnomusicologists. Railroading songs usually have their own section in the various Lomax classics.
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Re: Railroad Songs

Postby drvmusic » Wed Mar 15, 2017 11:00 am

I tend towards the bluegrass or Johnny Cash style.

That said, here's my favorite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTjHVJIxENc
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Re: Railroad Songs

Postby NashuaActon&Boston » Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:07 pm

There are so many great RR tunes - This a dark one - Hank Williams Sr., Ramblin' Man - A desperate song. Great RR imagery. He didn't have long to live either, adds to the gravity perhaps. Not to be confused with the Allman Brothers classic by Dickey Betts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V41gDDWEPso
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