Traditional American bluegrass and Appalachian folk song.
One chord song in Am.
(Instrumental train intro)
You should have been uptown
Seen that train come down
Heard that whistle blow 100 miles
I think I see the train
Coming ‘round the bend
Sounds like it's never gonna blow again
I’m going up the track
And I ain’t ever coming back
I’m tired of living this-a-way
I think I hear the train
How lonesome it blows
Sounds like it’s never gonna blow again
(instrumental train outro)
Notes on the music:
Train-like percussion and percussive strumming on the single Am chord indicated for this one. The instrumental melody is in 2 parts, each 3 ½ bars which helps to propel the train along…
Typical arrangement after each verse is one time Part A (the one that starts on the E and mimics the sound of a train whistle) 2 times Part B (the one that starts on the tonic and recalls the circular rhythm of the wheels) and then one more Part A before the next verse starts.
The verses are similar to the instrumental Part A but typically complete the 4th bar so that the verses are 4 bars each.
This song is open to all manner of improvisation depending on how the train is running, including how many repetitions of each part in the instrumental sections. The solo section is completely open ended with no set length for solos and does not follow the 2 part arrangement.
Woody Guthrie version here.
Holy Modal Rounders Reuben's Train here.
Bob Dylan’s John Brown with similar melody here.