Merle Haggard & the Strangers

Train Whistle Blues, Vol. 5: Classic Railroad Songs

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This pleasant collection from Rounder Records brings together 14 train songs recorded during Merle Haggard's long tenure with Capitol Records, drawn mostly from 1969's Same Train, Different Time: A Tribute to Jimmie Rodgers and 1975's My Love Affair With Trains, in essence serving as a sampler for those two releases. Haggard's lifelong fascination with trains isn't hard to trace. The son of a railroad man, he was raised in a refurbished 40-foot reefer boxcar 300 feet from the Southern Pacific & Sante Fe oil spur, and as a writer and singer he clearly understands the train as a metaphor for escape and personal freedom. Highlights here include versions of Dolly Parton's "My Love Affair With Trains," Jimmie Rodgers' "Waiting for a Train," and two poignant and autobiographical Haggard originals, "White Man Singin' the Blues" and "No More Trains to Ride."

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