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Make ya lonesome, now

The Blues is a product of a distinctly American culture. Its peak and decline parallels American passenger railroading. The peaks left us with a wealth of blues songs about the rails. Since riding the railroad is something that our parents and grandparents did, the blues tunes are charged with a personal melancholy that puts the past right into your heart.

Here’s maybe my favorite of all:

Special Stream Line by Bukka White:

That's that fast Special Streamline
Leavin' outta Memphis, Tennessee
Goin' into New Orleans.
She runnin' so fast the hobos don't
fool with this train. They stand on the
track with their hat in their hands.

I had a friend girl that mornin' was
catchin' that train.
She got up singin' this song:

'Hey Dad, I'm sorry to leave my home
Lord, Lord, Lord, Lordy'

She heard that 8:30 local blowin' that
mornin'. She hadn't rid the train in a good while.
She thought it'd have that Special Streamline.
She heard at 8:30 local when she is comin'
to the line, declared up for that Streamline
Blowin' like this:

(plays guitar w/washboard)

She said, 'Daddy, is that my train?'
I say, I ain't keepin' up with the train time
I'm tryin-a make a few dimes.'
She dropped her head went to singin'
an cryin':

'It's alright how you turn me down
I ain't got a dime

After she called for a ticket
She heard this Special Streamline
going 36 miles from Memphis, Tennessee.
Make ya lonesome, now
Cause I'm a hobo myself, sometimes.

(plays guitar & w/washboard)

Man asks her, 'Where the other train?'
She told him she didn't know
If she heard a bell she could tell him all about it.
As she dropped over that hill
And stopped off in the valley
She heard the bell begin to toll like this:

(plays guitar w/washboard)
'Make a sound like a church bell toll'.

Before she got to that ten mile tunnel
She blowed and throw'd on the airbrakes.

(plays guitar & w/washboard)


When she got to that ten mile tunnel
She was gettin' close
She was tippin cars on automatic switch
Gettin' her water and coal on the fly
You could hear her when she was strikin'
that double iron like this:

(plays guitar w/washboard)

When she run 'cross the last one
She squalled in.

(plays guitar w/washboard)

This girl looked out an seen that train
She commenced to singin' an cryin'.

'Hey, dad I don't wanna leave'
I believe I'll lose my mind'

When that train got a little closer
down to New Orleans, she went around
that curve, you would hear her
when she's blowin' like this:

(plays guitar w/washboard)

The people's always standin' at the station
Lyin' there to see that train come in.
You would hear her when she squalls.

(plays guitar w/washboard – to end)

'Boy, ev'rywhere but here'