Little Red Train, The
DESCRIPTION: A quatrain ballad, this describes the sexual activities and practices of the train crew and passengers. Recognized by the internal chorus, "(She/It) blew, (She/it) blew" and the final line "How (she/it) blew."
EARLIEST DATE: 1925 (recordings, Vernon Dalhart)
KEYWORDS: bawdy train humorous nonballad
FOUND IN: US(So,SW)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Cray, pp. 224-226, "The Little Red Train" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Randolph-Legman I, pp. 254-256, "The Runaway Train" (3 texts, 1 tune)
Sandburg, p. 379, "The Wind It Blew Up the Railroad Track" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
Vernon Dalhart, "The Runaway Train" (Brunswick 2911, 1925) (Victor 19684, 1925) (Oriole 454 [as Dick Morse], 1925) (Edison 51584, 1925) (CYL: Edison [BA] 5028, n.d.) (Perfect 12207 [as Guy Massey], 1925)
cf. "Mademoiselle from Armentieres" (tune)
cf. "Snapoo" (tune)
cf. "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again" (tune)
The Runaway Train
The Sixty-Nine Comes Down the Track
NOTES [114 words]: The history of this song is a bit vague, as it has both clean and dirty forms. Sandburg prints a single stanza of a clean text (saying of it "This is for cold weather, around the stove in the switch shanty"). But the bawdy version seems to be much more widespread.
Which is original? The evidence available to me does not make it clear. The possibility that Sandburg's text is bowdlerized cannot be denied. - RBW
The Sandburg version may indeed be bowdlerized, but Vernon Dalhart also put out a clean version of "The Runaway Train" in 1925, two years before. Actually, he put it out several times that year, on different labels. Sandburg's verse isn't on his recording(s), though. - PJS
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The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.