City of New Orleans

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About City of New Orleans

"City of New Orleans" is a country folk song written by Steve Goodman (and first recorded for Goodman's self-titled 1971 album), describing a train ride from Chicago to New Orleans on the Illinois Central Railroad's City of New Orleans in bittersweet and nostalgic terms. Goodman got the idea while traveling on the Illinois Central line for a visit to his wife's family. The song has been recorded by numerous artists both in the US and Europe, including two major hit versions: first by Arlo Guthrie in 1972, and later by Willie Nelson in 1984. An article in the September 2017 issue of Trains magazine chronicles the writing and recording of the song and includes a biographical sketch of Steve Goodman.  


Year:
2000
46 Views

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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 pulls out at Kankakee
Rolls along past houses, farms and fields
Passin' trains that have no names
Freight yards full of old black men
And the graveyards of the rusted automobiles

Good morning America how are you?
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

Dealin' cards with the old men in the club car
Penny a point ain't no one keepin' score
Won't you 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 carpets made of steam
Mothers with their babes asleep
Are rockin' to the gentle beat
And the rhythm of the rails is all they dream

Good morning America how are you?
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
And 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 song again
The passengers will please refrain
This train's got the disappearing railroad blues

Good night, America, how are you?
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

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Arlo Guthrie

Arlo Davy Guthrie (born July 10, 1947) is an American folk singer. Like his late father, Woody Guthrie, Arlo is known for singing songs of protest against social injustice. One of Guthrie's better-known works is "Alice's Restaurant Massacree", a satirical talking blues song about 18 minutes in length. more »

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Written by: Steve Goodman

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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    "City of New Orleans Lyrics." Lyrics.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 27 Oct. 2020. <https://www.lyrics.com/lyric/4622118/Arlo+Guthrie>.

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