“City of New Orleans” – Arlo Guthrie

Song Lyric Sunday

This week for Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams has prompted us with Train Songs. City of New Orleans was written by Steve Goodman in 1970 while traveling with his new wife to meet her grandmother. The train ride was from Chicago to New Orleans on the Illinois Central line and was called the City of New Orleans. Arlo Guthrie recorded it in 1972 on his album Hobo’s Lullaby. It reached #4 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart & #18 on the Hot 100 chart.

Willie Nelson recorded City of New Orleans in 1984 which reached #1 on both the Billboard Hot Country Sings chart & the RPM Country Tracks chart in Canada. Willie’s version earned Steve Goodman a Grammy Award for Best Country Song at the 27th Grammy Awards in 1985. The video below is from a Live at Farm Aid Concert in 1985 featuring Arlo Guthrie & Dottie West.

The music video tribute linked here was put together by YouTuber AK Dian. Other than hopping a train when I was 15, I can’t say I know a lot about trains except they are loud, a pain when they are switching tracks while blocking an intersection & something I want to ride some day through the mountains.

Music Video Tribute by AK Dian
City of New Orleans
Riding on the city of New Orleans
Illinois Central, Monday morning rail
Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders
Three conductors and twenty-five sacks of mail
All along the southbound odyssey
The train pulled out at Kankakee
And rolls along past houses, farms and fields
Passin' trains that have no names
And freight yards full of old black men
And the graveyards of the rusted automobiles
Good morning, America
How are you?
Say don't you know me? I'm your native son
I'm the train they call the city of New Orleans
And I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done
Dealin' card games with the old men in the club car
Penny a point ain't no one keepin' score
Pass the paper bag that holds the bottle
Feel the wheels rumblin' 'neath the floor
And the sons of Pullman Porters
And the sons of engineers
Ride their father's magic carpet made of steel
Mothers with their babes asleep
Are rockin' to the gentle beat
And the rhythm of the rail is all they feel
Good morning, America
How are you?
Say don't you know me? I'm your native son
I'm the train they call the city of New Orleans
I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done
Nighttime on the city of New Orleans
Changing cars in Memphis, Tennessee
Half way home, we'll be there by morning
Through the Mississippi darkness
Rolling down to the sea
But all the towns and people seem
To fade into a bad dream
And the steel rails still ain't heard the news
The conductor sings his songs again
The passengers will please refrain
This train has got the disappearing railroad blues
Good morning, America
How are you?
Say don't you know me? I'm your native son
I'm the train they call the city of New Orleans
I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Steve Goodman
City of New Orleans lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

12 Comments on ““City of New Orleans” – Arlo Guthrie

  1. Thanks for joining in Frank & Lisa with this great train song. I love that line, “Good Morning America, how are you”. It was nice to watch the Farm Aide video and listen to Willie Nelson singing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought it was special that Willie pulled Arlo up to sing it with him. I love that line too. I felt that way every day we were on vacation. I just downloaded my photos this morning. Will start sharing all of that soon.

      Liked by 1 person

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