The American Songbook is not for the feint of heart. Trains, cars, whiskey, sex, money, work, loneliness, death – even murder – and God, not necessarily in that order. Vernacular music, music of the people, perhaps the expression of a culture just before the great decline.
You should-a been uptown when Reuben’s train came down, you could hear that whistle blow a hundred miles. Listen to the Foghorn Stringband. For a band with no banjo, they really cook.
I can feel Reuben’s train rumblin’ down the track. Long steel rail and short cross tie – bound to get to heaven when I die.
When people ask me why I’m so caught up in this Old Time music thing, I show them two or three videos which say it way better than I can with words.
My baby loves shortnin’ shortnin’, my baby loves shortnin’ bread…. This is Chicken Train, John Herrman on banjo, John Engle on fiddle, Meredith McIntosh on guitar.
I could watch this next video 100 times in a row and never get tired of it. Bashful Brother Oswald is the singer. Cathy Barton is frailing the banjo. Polly-wolly-doodle.
One more before I call it a night. I’ve shared this one before but it is so good it deserves another look. It’s the fantastic Mac Beattie and his Ottawa Valley Melodiers performing Saturday Night up the Gatineau.