The 23 best train songs ever written

Published: December 3, 2015

Clip Art Steam Engine smallHarper’s Magazine blogger Kevin Baker put together what he feels are the 23 best American songs about trains ever written. In his blog post, Baker explores train songs by Johnny Cash to “I’ve been working on the railroad.” Below is his list of songs.

Click here to go to Baker’s blog post to read why he thinks these are the best train songs out there and to listen to those songs.

  1. Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash
  2. City of New Orleans by Steve Goodman
  3. The Ballad of John Henry, sung by Harry Belafonte
  4. Chattanooga Choo Choo by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon
  5. Mystery Train by Junior Parker
  6. The Midnight Special, sung by Leadbelly and Harry Belafonte
  7. The Wreck of the Old 97, sung by Johnny Cash
  8. This Train is Bound for Glory, sung by Sister Rosetta Tharpe
  9. On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer
  10. Dixie Flyer by Randy Newman
  11. 500 Miles, sung by Hedy West, Rosanne Cash and Joan Baez respectively
  12. Downbound Train by Bruce Springsteen
  13. Rock Island Line, sung by Alan Lomax, Johnny Cash and Lonnie Donegan respectively
  14. Paddy on the Railway by The Wolfe Tones
  15. Freight Train, Freight Train by Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten, also sung by Peter, Paul & Mary
  16. The Ballad of Casey Jones aka The Brave Engineer by Johnny Cash
  17. Casey Jones by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter
  18. Wabash Cannonball by J.A. Roff
  19. Long Train Running by The Doobie Brothers
  20. I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, singer unknown
  21. Last Train to Clarksville by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart
  22. Midnight Train to Georgia by Jim Weatherly and sung by Empress Gladys & The Pips
  23. Bringin’ in the Georgia Mail by Fred Rose and sung by Sam Bush Band

Bonus song: Downtown Train, sung by Tom Waits and Rod Stewart respectively

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