Hobo Bound: Train Songs About Hoboes
This "Americana" genre CD documents what it was like to be a hobo on the railroad. Vocals are accompanied by acoustic guitar with fiddle, dobro, or mandolin -- plus authentic steam freights, clatterings and whistle moans no longer heard along America's railways. Also included is a U.S. Library of Congress recording of track departures from New Orleans being announced by a train caller. Like all Ivy Creek productions, Hobo Bound is presented with historical documentation and songwriter information on people like Utah Phillips, Hank Williams, John Prine, and Woody Guthrie. Liner notes also give quotes from modern-day hobos. "I'm going to be old and toothless and still riding the trains," says Shayla, an African American teen interviewed in the book One More Train to Ride. The first cut, "Smoke Along the Track," is one of the last songs ever written depicting the steam locomotive and the gritty coal smoke that settles on down in it's wake. "My Ramblin' Boy" celebrates the lifelong friendship the hobo formed for "pals" on whom his life often depended. "Danville Girl" is a jaunty hobo soliloquy from the 1860s when it was performed by minstrel troops. "Lonesome Whistle" depicts the low mournful echo of the steam whistle heard late at night, a reminder that traveling is often lonely and full of goodbyes. Likewise, the plaintive "Five Hundred Miles" evokes the emptiness that comes when "home" seems like it might be forever out of reach. The ballad "East Texas Red" tells about a real "bull" hired to keep unauthorized riders off the trains, one who received punishment in return. In "The Big Rock Candy Mountains," the words show the universal longing for plenty: for "a lake of stew and ginger ale too," for candy mountains and soda water fountains. Yet, at the same time, we can hear the hobo's yearning to remain free from the lure of industrialized society and it's work ethic. Other songs include "Blue Railroad Train," "Fast Freight," "Hobo's Meditation," "Hobo Bill's Last Ride," "Wabash Cannon Ball," "Queen of the Rails," "Hobo's Lullaby," "Ramblin' Man," and "The Hobo Song."