First off I have to mention that Songs Are Blue was written by Jason Eklund and Old River Blues was written by Riley Coyote. Freedom is an adaptation of the old folk spiritual Motherless Child. Ride This Train is a messaround with Johnny Cash’s Train show motif. Leave The Lights On For Me was written for some fellow CSX employees who were working for free to maintain their seniority after coal went bust in the Appalachian Region of the CSX Rail network. You can hear the tune Wildwood Flower in the melody of the song because the part of the railroad that was going to be shutdown was the Clinchfield division. The same area of the country that the legendary American folk music Carter Family is from.
The train whistles were going to be silenced in one of the places “that high and lonesome” sound originated.
That was the overly folk, passionate feeling I caught from the very real situation that was happening to me and my co-workers when I was a Locomotive Engineer. I was also thinking about Carter and Ralph Stanley growing up without those railroad noises echoing all around their mountain homeplace. Leave The Lights On For Me is a direct mention of the empty slogan of the coal industries lobby “Friends Of Coal” and as anyone who has ever been to West Virginia could tell you, Coal Keeps The Lights, ON! But what happens when the coal leaves, people lose their jobs and are forced to work hundreds of miles away from home for free for several weeks? What kind of friend is that? Takes two to railroad.
That exact situation is what inspired the tune Leave The Lights On For Me. I was working with a Locomotive Engineer who was qualifying on new territory and he was talking on the phone back to his people in Eastern Kentucky. He had not been home in three weeks, was making no money and his wife was on the brink with the kids and his life was falling apart. I was also directly effected by this situation because 40 people were going to go in-front of me on our Kentucky Locomotive Roster and I would lose years of seniority as a result. As a union person red and true, I didn’t care about that, a worker was getting royally fucked and I was inspired deeply by what was happening. What was happening is called an Unjust Transition and as a folk musician/reporter I knew this unfair working condition needed to be documented.
If you add the recordings below from Run Over By A Train, you will have most of the recordings right before I decided to quit the railroad. All of the recordings from Even Further and Run Over By A Train were made at La La Land recording studio in Louisville, Kentucky. When I recorded this project I was working 60 hours plus a week driving trains, I was a very active union activist and was close to a midlife crisis. I can hear the winds of that change ominously blowing in these recordings. Thank goodness I am on the other side of that storm. Enjoy these tunes and spoken word selections and please share share share !!!!