Technically, it’s still Sunday, but in 3 minutes it will be Monday and according to my WordPress clock (which is 4 hours off) it’s been Monday for 3 hours and 57 minutes, so here’s the second installment in this series featuring music I like from the past.
This week’s selection is “City of New Orleans” by folk singer Arlo Guthrie.
From the Youtube entry for the video:
A hit for Guthrie on his 1972 album “Hobo’s Lullaby”, Peaking at # 18 on Billboard hot 100. The folk song was written by Steve Goodman, describing a train ride from Chicago to New Orleans on the Illinois Central Railroad’s City of New Orleans in bittersweet and nostalgic terms. Goodman got the idea while traveling on the Illinois Central line for a visit to his wife’s family. He performed the song for Arlo Guthrie in the Quiet Knight, a bar in Chicago, and Guthrie agreed to add it to his repertoire. The song is now more closely associated with him, although Goodman performed it until his death in 1984. The song has been recorded by numerous artists both in the US and Europe.
This folk-rock hit from the fall of 1972 has been largely forgotten, but it’s been covered by a lot of other artists over the years, because of its timeless Americana appeal. Even in its heyday, it evoked nostalgia. It was the kind of song your parents liked. Hell, even your grandparents could groove to it. Even in the early 1970s, who actually rode on trains? The rollicking chorus and old-timey Ragtime-esque piano riff evokes images of simpler, kinder times that probably never really existed but we like to think did. It’s sincere without being smarmy. The tempo is relaxing and rhythmic, like the long, slow train ride through the flyover states the lyrics describe.
At the end of the day, it’s just a really great song that almost makes you believe the milkman will be delivering fresh whole milk and eggs tomorrow morning, the smiling mailman will wave hello and whistle a tune, and America is still a great country. It’s all Mister Rodgers Neighborhood and clean cotton sheets blowing in the wind out back, and even a cynic like me can get down with that.