Friday, June 13, 2008

Riding the Rails



After a lovely visit as part of the 2008 retreat of the Society of St. Polycarp, the Hollywoods said good-bye to one of our dearest friends, the Rev. Subdeacon Latif Gaba, SSP. Brother Latif made his way to the Crescent City by way of a 21 hour train odyssey that included the famed train line, the City of New Orleans, that runs between its namesake and the Windy City.

Much to Lion Boy's disappointment, this afternoon, we brought Br. Latif back to the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal where he boarded the City of New Orleans once more to head back north to Fort Wayne, Indiana, by way of Chicago. As of the time of this writing (11:40 pm CST), assuming the train is on time, Latif has left Memphis and is somewhere in Tennessee.

And although the song was written by, and sung by, Steve Goodman, there simply is nobody who does it better than Arlo Guthrie.

Here are the lyrics according to the Guthrie Standard Version:

The City of New Orleans 
by Steve Goodman


Riding on the City of New Orleans,
Illinois Central Monday morning rail
Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders,
Three conductors and twenty-five sacks of mail.
All along the southbound odyssey
The train pulls out at Kankakee
Rolls along past houses, farms and fields.
Passin' trains that have no names,
Freight yards full of old black men
And the graveyards of the rusted automobiles.

CHORUS:
Good morning America how are you?
Don't you know me I'm your native son,
I'm the train they call The City of New Orleans,
I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.

Dealin' card games with the old men in the club car.
Penny a point ain't no one keepin' score.
Pass the paper bag that holds the bottle
Feel the wheels rumblin' 'neath the floor.
And the sons of pullman porters
And the sons of engineers
Ride their father's magic carpets made of steel.
Mothers with their babes asleep,
Are rockin' to the gentle beat
And the rhythm of the rails is all they feel.

CHORUS

Nighttime on The City of New Orleans,
Changing cars in Memphis, Tennessee.
Half way home, we'll be there by morning
Through the Mississippi darkness
Rolling down to the sea.
And all the towns and people seem
To fade into a bad dream
And the steel rails still ain't heard the news.
The conductor sings his song again,
The passengers will please refrain
This train's got the disappearing railroad blues.

Good night, America, how are you?
Don't you know me I'm your native son,
I'm the train they call The City of New Orleans,
I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.

©1970, 1971 EMI U Catalogue, Inc and Turnpike Tom Music (ASCAP)

1 comment:

David said...

It is my contention that "City of New Orleans" is the American song par excellence of the last 50 years. It captures the American "spirit" better than anything else.

And, God willing, one day, I will ride that train.