Sunday, 7 March 2010

What - these old things?

Photo taken back in 2008 at the Bridge of Dun end of the local volunteer-run Caledonian Railway.

So TFE's task this week is that we write something to do with trains. For various reasons I've not really been in a position to come up with a new poem this time (and hey, I did write TWO new poems for last week's effort!) but I've managed a recent poem or so and a couple of bits of music. Think of this more as the buffet car than the main body of the train. Or something.

First off, in only October 09 (back here if you want the intro and build-up) I was writing about trains and history and my hometown and songwriting (amongst other things) in a poem called 'Rolling stock'. Here's the poem again:

Rolling stock

People talk, people sing about homeward bound
Of the place where they stay, where they'd like to remain
But the wheels of our lives go round and around

Take a town, Darlington, once so key and renowned
As the place where they rolled out the age of the train
People talk, people sing about homeward bound

The tracks of our trains may now seem run aground
But in 1825 they were our future - plain
The industry wheels going round and around

Locomotives moved coal and then folk by the pound
All thanks to the whirring of George Stephenson's brain
People sing, people long to be homeward bound

But progress takes over the wheel, so we've found
From the foot to the cart, from the car to the plane
Faster and further, around and around

Still we look for a home and listen for its sound
Where will it be, do we know its refrain?
People talk, people sing about homeward bound
But the wheels of our lives they go round and around

RF 2009

I also wrote a poem (that became a song) about trains and planes a while back. This one came about because one day I was just about to board a Scotrail train from Montrose down to Leuchars (south of here) when I saw and heard fighter jets zooming by. Leuchars is the local base here for fighter planes so I pondered on how much quicker they would get to their destination than me (amongst other things). I read this first as a poem, then it got a chorus and a few outings as a song but for now (because I'm not working regularly with a musician) it's a poem again. I've left the chorus in anyway though...sing along if you feel the urge (with or without music).

Leuchars, here we come

It's the strangest coincidence
Meeting you here today
Here's me on the train
There's you up and away

We're both heading south
Destination the same
I'm on my way to Edinburgh
You're in a jet fighter plane

Up and away
Up and away
Come back quickly
Slowly stay

We could chat on our trip
We could flirt, gently so
Except you're moving so fast
And I'm moving so slow

You travel the air
With such style and such speed
No stopping for passengers
No in-flights to read


You race past the geese
And they move pretty fast
They hit all their targets
No Sat Nav or maps

You can't smell our loos
And you can't meet our guard
You see us as tiny specks
Just as we see the stars


I'm not one for war
For its gadgets and toys
And I know that sometimes
You can leave more than noise

But here you have power
You roar by, stir my heart
Make kites look unambitious
If a good place to start


How I hate to fly bulk
Hate those cattle truck things
But you're something much finer
You're excitement with wings

And the whole world is laid
Before your Top Gun eyes
Take me with you, my pilot
To your view in the skies

Chorus to fade

RF 2005

Now for other people's music...who sings more about trains than blues singers and blues bands? One band who's been to our folk club a couple of times is the international-but-based-in-England blues band Spikedrivers. They're really great live and I would recommend you see them if you get the chance. However until then here's a clip of them doing a suitably trainy song called 'Train done gone':

Also here's English folk singer Pete Morton singing his much-covered 'Another Train' at what seems to be a house concert in the Netherlands:

I mentioned him once before (he has a song called 'I'm in love with Emily Dickinson' as much as anything else).

So, that's my contribution this week. And don't forget...if you have a water poem you want to share with the world head down to the post before this (scroll down or click 'older post' or go here) to see the terms and conditions.



Titus said...

Songs and trains were obviously made for each other. I like the buffet car best on any train now that they haven't got smoking carriages anymore.
I liked the historical take in "Rolling Stock" combined with the ever present, and very effectively repeated, "But the wheels of our lives go round and around".
"Leuchars, here we come" had the edge for me though, possibly because I loved the title so much, and also beacause of the slightly surreal thread that runs through your coversation with the planes/pilot.

Rachel Fox said...

What you mean you don't talk to pilots miles up in the air?

Niamh B said...

Excitement with wings is lovely - there's a lot of nice thoughts in there... and sometimes leaving more than noise is great, a reminder of the not so attractive side of the fighter jet.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Niamh. It is a big feature of life up on this coast...the very loud sound of these planes flying very low...and I do have mixed feelings about it. I kind of love it...they look so beautiful and dramatic and impressive...but of course they are just flying over us...nothing more threatening than that.

When it was a song it had a kind of calypso feel...bizarrely.


Pure Fiction said...

I love the rhythm of your first one, Rolling Stock, carrying the reader forward the whole time, and the whirring of George Stephenson's brain. The way you've tracked the history of the town through the train is really interesting too.

Dr. Jeanne Iris said...

Rachel, Thank you for this enjoyable train ride aboard the tracks of memory in rhythm and rhyme.

Argent said...

I liked "You're excitement with wings" as well. I liked everything this week, but the Leuchars one has the edge with it's quirky unusual approach.

The Solitary Walker said...

Hey, yeah, that Pete Morton song is perfectly lovely... He can come and play in my house any time he wants...

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks folks.

SW - Pete Morton is doing gigs in England just now...have a look at his site. I first heard that song performed by a Canadian singer, Eileen McGann, at the folk club here (our very first visit some 6 years back). It is a very memorable song!


Kat Mortensen said...

I do love a good villanelle!

Such an interesting concept in the second one.


green ink said...

I love poems about trains, they always seem to have great rhythm... :D

Glad I checked in, have missed your words.


Peter Goulding said...

That's a great villanelle! The little changes in the lines totally alter the meaning.

Rachel Fox said...

Anyone who wants more villanelles...I have several!
There's one here and another one here.


Dick said...

What a great post. That second poem is gagging for a tune, Rachel. I've heard of The Spikedrivers but never seen them. Mightily impressed.

Emerging Writer said...

With your villanelle, you are spoiling us. I do like the second song though. thoughtful

Rachel Fox said...

Thoughtful and a Top Gun reference! Double whammy.

Rachel Fox said...

And meant to say...if you liked that clip you'll love the Spikedrivers live, Dick. We saw them last a couple of months back and they were really, really good. One of those make-you-feel-glad-to-be-alive nights out.


Totalfeckineejit said...

Feckin hell! It's a Villanelle!
Homeward bound, we spend our lives thus.And when can we hear an audio version of the song? Bring it on.Cool work Foxo!

Rachel Fox said...

Funnily enough I did end up writing a new train poem after all but only today (weds) and so a bit late for this trip. I might wait and see what next week's task is and work out a way to shoehorn it into that!

I think it was some of the others who nudged me in a direction in the end (Titus, Pure Fiction and bits of other ones too no doubt). Group work indeed.