Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Good Morning, America, How Are You?

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.

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.
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.

lyrics: The City of New Orleans by Steve Goodman ©1970, 1971 EMI U Catalogue, Inc and Turnpike Tom Music (ASCAP)


lohwoman said...

Oh, I thank you for doing this. Arlo Guthrie's version (is there another?) was a big hit the summer we got engaged and my fiance suggested we go to New Orleans on our honeymoon. So we, Midwesterners all our lives, always considered this "our song." And New Orleans was a wonderful place to visit.

Patrick Martin said...

Earlier this year, Arlo Guthrie rounded up a rag-tag (the best kind) group of musicians, including Willie Nelson, for a series of benefit performances to raise money for displaced New Orleans musicians, many of whom had lost even their instruments. They travelled along the Mississippi, stopping for gigs along the way, culminating in two nights of performances at Tipitina's. I went to the first night there.

I get shivers just remembering it. There were two highlights for me (though not any sort of hippie nor of the 60s generation, I grew up with a deep love of folk music). One was of course when Arlo sang "City of New Orleans". The other was when Woodie's son sang "This Land is Your Land". That song stuck with my heart ever since I learned it at Andrew Carnegie Elementary School in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I don't think I could ever go to a concert as meaninful as that one was. I'll remember it for a long, long time.

Now I'm going to have to go write a post about it over at Stubborn Facts so I can show you some pictures from the concert.

SippicanCottage said...

lohwoman- How lovely.

My only trip to NO, I arrived at midnight in a torrential downpour and had a door slammed in my face. I drove to Texas.

But then again, my affection for the place goes back to Mark Twain, so I was undeterred.

Walrus said...

I gotta ask, where did you get those great photos? And don't try to tell me you took them!

I think I'll go reread that post and sing my way through it...

Pastor_Jeff said...

"I learned it at Andrew Carnegie Elementary School in Tulsa, Oklahoma."


My last year of elementary school was in a small city in SW Oklahoma. The schools were Will Rogers, Horace Mann, Plato, Emerson, Mark Twain, Woodrow Wilson.

In contrast, our kids have gone to Commons Lane and Carman Trails. I think we miss something by not encouraging our kids to at least wonder, "Who is that guy in our school name?"

And I'd love to hear more about that concert!

Patrick Martin said...

Pastor Jeff, imagine how awful it would be to go to school in New York City and attend "P.S. 182". I'm with you all the way on that one. Name schools after somebody. White, black, Indian, I don't care. Just give the school some identity, some values to strive for.

And thank you for giving me an opportunity to plug my City of New Orleans Tour concert post. I hope it sounds reasonably coherent; I've been writing in fits and starts today... dadgum day job, friends, and family! Always getting in the way of my blogging! lol

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Patrick Martin: Being from a PS school in New York still has its charm. Take a look at this story from Bronx-boy-now-Austin-Texas-man Richard Lawrence Cohen.

Patrick Martin said...

That was a lovely story, Ruth Anne, thanks for pointing it out. But I'd still rather go to school someplace with a name rather than a number. Glad the New York folks can make the best of it, though...

lohwoman said...

Good morning, greg-o-ry, how are you? Still have yesterday's piece on my mind. This summer I visited Washington, D.C., for the first time. I was talking to a couple who helped our group navigate the Metro and I mentioned that my husband and I rode a streetcar in New Orleans on our honeymoon. Through the Garden District and to the end of the line. At that point, the conductor flipped the seatbacks over and charged us 15 cents each for the return trip. This young couple had done the same thing on their honeymoon 3 years ago -- except that it cost much more. I think I will have to write my sweetie an ode that opens: Riding on a Streetcar Named St. Charles.

SippicanCottage said...

I'm terrific -thanks for askin'...
and reading and commenting.

tjl said...

Thanks for the beautiful old photos.

Sippican, since you like working with wood, N.O. should be your paradise. Where else could you find such a wealth of 19th century ornamental carpentry as in the Garden District or the Marigny? New England's traditional woodworking style is so chaste and austere by comparison.

amba said...

All that needing sayin'.

clairedm said...

Well, I am clearly arriving here very late- I just discovered your blog! I just wanted to say that I love this song so much, and the pictures that you picked to go with it are perfect. I always listened to the Steve Goodman version, though, not Arlo Guthrie.

SippicanCottage said...

Hi Claire and welcome- The Steve Goodman version is indeed very fine. A fellow that wrote a biography of Steve Goodman wrote me about this blogpost. He said he noticed I had written Steve Goodman's name to attribute the lyrics. I guess everybody just assumes Arlo Guthrie wrote it, as his version of the song is very well known.

I'll look around for a link for the book. I can't lay my hands on it right now. It might not be published yet.