The history of country and bluegrass music is dotted with reference to trains, symbolizing different things: freedom in Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” for example, or temptation in Josh Turner’s “Long Black Train.” “The Train That Carried My Girl From Town,” newly recorded by the Earls of Leicester as the leadoff track from their new album Rattle & Roar, sees the mode of transport as the scourge that broke apart a relationship.
Led by dobro master and producer Jerry Douglas (Alison Krauss), the Earls’ take on the tune — previously recorded by Doc Watson and Roscoe Holcomb, among others — moves with locomotive energy thanks to nimble playing by Douglas and bandmates Barry Bales, Shawn Camp, Charlie Cushman, Johnny Warren and Jeff White. Not merely distressed at the sound of the train and what it represents, the song offers dashes of gallows humor to ease some of the pain. “I wish to the Lord the train would wreck, kill the engineer and break the fireman’s neck,” goes one line in the first verse.
“‘The Train That Carried My Girl From Town’ was my choice as the opener for the project from day one,” says Douglas. “It encompasses all the strong points of the band right from the top, including the subject of trains, which was a touchstone subject for us on our first record.”
Rattle & Roar, due out July 15th, is the Earls of Leicester’s second album of songs honoring bluegrass pioneers Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, following their Grammy-winning self-titled 2014 release. In addition to “Train,” the 17-track LP includes renditions of “You Can Feel It in Your Soul” and instrumentals like “Buck Creek Gal.”
Here’s Rattle & Roar‘s tracklisting:
- The Train That Carried My Girl from Town
- Why Did You Wander?
- All I Want Is You
- Steel Guitar Blues intro
- Steel Guitar Blues
- You Can Feel It in Your Soul
- A Faded Red Ribbon
- Just Ain’t
- Mother Prays Loud in Her Sleep
- I’m Working on a Road (To Glory Land)
- Will You Be Lonesome Too?
- Flint Hill Special
- What’s Good for You (Should Be Alright for Me)
- The Girl I Love Don’t Pay Me No Mind
- Branded Wherever I Go
- Buck Creek Gal
- Pray for the Boys