Various Artists

Railroad Songs & Ballads

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Once I recorded my great-grandmother relating the "Tale of Sam McGhee" with explanations and observations. Work chants, train calls, history and onomatopoeia are captured in this collection made by various archivers from 1936 to 1959. I also remember a line of fiction somewhere remarking on a railroad bridge. A train was always going over it, but the observing character always remained. There is a mystique about trains that involves travel, power and whistles in the night. It is still a strong image, but obviously much more apparent when travel was made more often by train and more tracks were laid. All forms of railroad balladry are preserved here, with anecdotes. Lyrics and notes appear along with an informative general background in the thick booklet. Warning: somewhat rugged field recordings.

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