Creative Uses Of The Train Metaphor In Ten Popular Songs

Railroads have often been the subjects of popular songs, most notably The City of New Orleans by Arlo Guthrie and the Midnight Special by Creedence Clearwater Revival. While those particular hits were written about actual railroads, many other songs have been given titles of metaphorical trains.

Bob Dylan, who won a Noble Prize for his writings, once compared judgment day to a slow train coming. Here are ten other songs that have names employing that outdated romantic mode of transportation as a metaphor.

Love Train by the O Jays

Recording in the anti war era of the post-Vietnam Seventies, the R & B hit makers sang about a railroad car filled with love.

Peace Train by Cat Stevens

War was in the headlines when this folk rock hit owned the radio, offering a vision of a world without violence.

Ghost Train by Elvis Costello

Maureen and Stan are a couple no one ever notices, as if they were intangible spirits. The tune has that typical Costello word play, such as “He got a black eye from a waitress, she’s not seeing any stars.”

Slow Train To Dawn by The

Matt Johnson used the concept to emphasize a long night he suffered through, and it ended up being one of the highlights on his sophomore album Infected.

Phantom Train by the Bongos

This title track came from an album the alt rockers recorded in 1986, only to be placed on hold for only about thirty years.

Little Black Train by Woody Guthrie

Like it or not, says the folk legend here, this metaphor for death is coming for everyone at some point.

Silver Train by the Rolling Stones

Here we have the rail vehicle representing a prostitute with whom the singer was involved during the recording of Sticky Fingers, but the song did not appear until the Goatshead Soup album.

Crazy Train by Ozzy Osborn

When the former lead singer of Black Sabbath confesses that he is going off the rails of the title subject, most fans had already assumed that idea years before.

Lonesome Train by Johnny Burnette

This country classic is told from the perspective of an obviously lonely man hoping for a conductor to bring him someone to love.

Mystery Train by Bob Welch

“Ebony Eyes” and “Sentimental Lady” we’re the big hits from French Kiss record, but this track describes a woman who is hard to figure out.