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One evenin’ as the sun went down….

I feel a long and rambling post coming on. I hope you don’t mind. I was thinking today about the late U Utah Phillips, the Golden Voice of the Great Southwest, talking about the traveling nation: hobos, tramps and bums. Utah made it clear that they are not the same. Hobos work and wander, he said. Bums drink and wander. Tramps though, were the intelligencia of the traveling nation. Tramps dream and wander. Here’s Haywire Mac singing Hallelujah I’m a Bum, from back in 1928.

Curiously I knew this song as a kid because my mom sang it to me. I have no idea why she would sing me Hallelujah I’m a Bum but she did. I didn’t think it was odd or anything. After all, when my father bought me my first junker record player he also bought me my first ever record, Walkin’ the Floor over You by Ernest Tubb, which was from 1941. They weren’t exactly immersing me in the latest pop hits. In case you don’t know that tune, and it’s a great one, here’s The Texas Troubador…

Later he found me a copy of Drivin’ Nails in my Coffin. I don’t remember if it was the Ernest Tubb version or the Floyd Tilman version – both are great. I didn’t mention to Mom that Dad bought me a record about drinkin’ over a lost love. I just thought all the kids had this kind of material. Imagine my surprise to find out it wasn’t true. Here’s Mr. Tubb again…

Anyway, back to the traveling nation. The title of this post, “one evenin’ as the sun went down…” is the first line of the Traveling Nation national anthem, Big Rock Candy Mountain. Here’s Wayne Shrubsall. If you’re a hobo, a bum or a tramp, the Big Rock Candy Mountain is where the little black train takes you. You know, the land of milk and honey, where they hung the jerk who invented work.

And now a taste of old Woody, singing all about the little black train…

The hobo train had another name of course, and that is the Wabash Cannonball. Do you know the tall tale about the Wabash Cannonball? Paul Bunyan’s brother, Cal S Bunyan built this train and it was known as the Ireland, Jerusalem, Australian & Southern Michigan Line. It was one big train, 700 cars long. It moved so fast that it actually got where it was going an hour before it left the station. Just try to get your head around that. Finally, it was going so fast, it went into space where it is still flying today. The traveling nation called this train the Wabash Cannonball and just about any hobo, bum or tramp will tell you they’ve hear her whistle. Let’s go out with Wanda Jackson singing Wabash Cannonball.

Good night all.

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