On 5 January 1980, “Train, Train” by Blackfoot peaked at #38.
I’ll admit that when I first heard the harmonica intro to Blackfoot’s “Train Train“ I was concerned. I don’t know much about Southern Rock — some Lynyrd Skynnyrd, some CCR, and a particularly goofy song by Little Feat that has made Commodore the default hotel name in my subconscious — and that harmonica was reinforcing all of my preconceived notions of what uninspired knockoff Dixie rock would sound like.
Boy was I wrong; “Train Train” rocks! It rollicks along with a driving guitar and a thumping beat, and that harmonica really gets down to its wailing business once the song starts proper. This is the song that most sounds like a train to me since I first heard Captain Beefheart’s “Click Clack“. There are lyrics, about driving a no-good woman away and then taking a train out of town to escape, well, something, either that no-good woman or cruel fate or some other looming threat. But really the lyrics are incidental, they’re just an excuse to board that midnight train to Memphis and coast out of town.
It’s an unfortunate artifact of radio that a track as good as this wallows in the lower reaches of the top-40, whereas Anne Murray and Barry Manilow can command the top ranks. The top 40 is, of course, dominated by songs you can listen to anywhere, and no bank manager wants a song about a raggedy hobo playing in their waiting room, not now, and certainly not in 1980. This is the first song in this project that I’ve felt I really need to go download; I’m hoping there will be a lot more.