There are so many good tunes written about railroads, making it difficult to choose the 10 best songs about trains. The railways were the backbone of the American transportation system for over 100 years and have moved countless amounts of people and freight.
- “City of New Orleans” This wonderful folk song was written by Steve Goodman and recorded by Arlo Guthrie. It tells the story of a trip on the Illinois Central down to New Orleans. It is a nostalgic tale and was written in the early 1970s when railroad travel was in decline.
- “Hey Porter” This is a delightful Johnny Cash country song which conveys the story of a southerner going home. The singer asks the porter to let him know when the train crosses the Mason-Dixon Line.
- “Peace Train” this popular Cat Stevens ballad is a non-traditional train song. The train is symbolic as the singer calls out to people to ride his train in the quest for peace. The song was written in 1971 when the Vietnam war was still in progress.
- “King of the Road” This lighthearted tune tells the tale of a hobo riding the rails. Several versions have been recorded by various artists including Boxcar Willie and Roger Miller.
- “Chattanooga Choo Choo” This lively song is a classic and has been performed by both Glenn Miller and Cab Calloway. The song describes a ride from Pennsylvania Station to Chattanooga; the fellow is riding home to see his sweetheart.
- “Wabash Cannonball” This fun folk tune has a number of versions and dates back to the early 1880s. It has been performed by many artists and tells the story of the travels of the Wabash Cannonball.
- “Atchison Topeka and the Santa Fe” This energetic tune tells the story of Engine 49 traveling on down the line. The station folks are getting reading to take the riders to Brown’s Hotel where they are sure folks will want to stay. Many talented artists, including Bing Crosby and Judy Garland, recorded this song.
- “Ballad of Casey Jones” This tune dates back to 1909s and the several versions tell the story of railroad engineer Casey Jones. Casey has his engine storming down the line and the train gets wrecked. It is a colorful, lighthearted tune.
- “Last Train to Clarksville” This song was a 1966 hit for The Monkees. The song is believed to be about soldiers returning to their base and the reason they are taking the last train is to spend more time with their families.
- “Folsom Prison Blues” This Johnny Cash country classic has a prisoner singing about a train he can hear passing by. The prisoner wishes he could be on that train because it represents freedom.
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