Saturday, February 19, 2011

Freight Train

FREIGHT TRAIN by Elizabeth Cotten
Freight train, freight train, run so fast,
Freight train, freight train, run so fast,
Please don’t tell what train I’m on
They won’t know what route I’ve gone.

When I’m dead and in my grave,
No more good times here I crave
Place the stones at my head and feet
Tell them all that I’ve gone to sleep.

When I die, Lord, bury me deep
Way down on old Chestnut Street
Then I can hear old Number Nine
As she comes rolling by.

(The notes below are from Freight Train and Other North Carolina Folk Songs and Tunes linernotes by Mike Seeger)

When Elizabeth Cotten and her brothers were playing music together each would have songs that they called their own, and this was one of that she made up and sung as hers, It was one of the few she ever composed herself and was largely inspired by the train running near her home. She sung the song in Washington and it was subsequently popularized by Peggy Seeger, Nancy Whiskey and Rusty Draper.

"We used to watch the freight train. We knew the fireman and the brakeman...and the conductor, my mother used to launder for him. They'd let us ride in the engine...put us in one of the coaches while they were backing up and changing...that was how I got my first train ride.

"We used to walk the trestle and put our ear to the track and listen for the train to come. My brother, he'd wait for the train to get real close and then he'd hang down from one of the ties and swing back up after the train had passed over him."


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Poetry24 said...

A classic, Vicki. I've never heard it played and sung by Elizabeth Cotten, so this was a real treat.

J_on_tour said...

I can associate with this concept as it "affected" me as a child for the same reason ! Never heard guitar playing like that for a while... skilful.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

what a treat! Thank you

Christine said...

Thank you Vicki that was wonderful! Loved hearing Elizabeth sing the song. Made me want to hear her sing some more.

Brenda said...

Well this was unexpected fun!

Victoria said...

I've heard this song done by several different groups, but I never knew that it was written by a woman. Very cool!

Witch of Stitches said...

Wonderful Vicki, thanks. One line reminds me of an old sampler verse - when I am dead and in my grave.

Tipper said...

I always wanted to live by a freight train-neat post.

Tipper said...

I always wanted to live by a freight train-neat post.

jennyfreckles said...

It would make a good sound track for my current series of blog posts!