Last Train Out Of Stubbville*

Planes, Trains And Autombiles seems to be one of those films that has become part of the fabric of the holidays. It gets a fare amount of play around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Coming across it the other night – as well as seeing the Atlantic coast getting two feet of snow – makes me grateful that there will be no travel for Paloma and me this Christmas.

Though the sun of Florida might be pleasant and there could be postcard amount of snow in Indiana, our forecast is for temperatures in the 40s, overcast, maybe rain. But we won’t be having to make like Mad Max on the highway or risk our plane plummeting to the earth in a fiery heap.

I am about as enamored with air travel as Rain Man was. Its extremely dangerous. I don’t have the exact statistics at hand, but I think something like one out of two planes crash.

It’s not the actual concept of aerodynamics that is a concern to me. It’s more a trust thing I have with everyone from the most certainly bored and inattentive people that tighten the bolts on the plane to the most certainly bored and drunken pilots.

Paranoid digressions aside, travel by train is inspired.

(and, unfortunately, not often an option for most of us in the States)

During a brief time living in London, The Tube made me giddy as a schoolgirl and I was always up for a ride on the train. I’d sit or stand contented by the motion and familiar rhythm of stops, watching the antics of the passengers while listening to headphones.

It was like having the greatest ant farm in the world with a soundtrack I loved.

Peak hours could sometimes be less enjoyable, but I do remember certain stretches and routes would have far fewer passengers, especially the line I used most, nicknamed “The Misery Line.”

(I thought it was delightful)

I’ve taken trains through jungles in Malaysia and through farmlands in Ohio and there’s no denying that watching the countryside slowly and serenely roll by outside the window adds romance and intrigue to any landscape.

But, this Christmas, the view from the couch with Paloma and the animals and a few days of downtime appeals to me most.

*In case you’ve forgotten (or never seen Planes, Trains And Automobiles), Stubbville is where Steve Martin and John Candy must depart because “train don’t run out of Wichita… unlessin’ you’re a hog or a cattle.”

Beth Orton – Paris Train
from Daybreaker

I’ve made the trip from London to Paris by train a few times and its a fantastic journey from one major capitol to another in four hours, but it is a bit strange to consider that a portion of the trek is spent under the waters of the channel.

I’ve also spent time riding The Metro, the subway system of Paris, which, compared to The Tube in London isn’t quite as sterile and has a bit more grit and character.

As for Beth Orton’s Paris Train, it’s dreamy and hypnotic and it no more than ends than I’m inclined to hit repeat.

The Clash – Train In Vain (Stand By Me)
from London Calling

I mentioned The Clash’s Train In Vain in a post earlier this year, but I never tire of hearing it.

Cat Stevens – Peace Train
from Teaser And The Firecat

All debate regarding what Cat did say, didn’t say, or actually meant to say regarding Salman Rushdie aside, although I was pretty young, I do vividly remember hearing songs like Morning Has Broken and Wild World on the radio as a tyke.

And, maybe most of all, I remember the ethereal Peace Train.

Megadeth – Train Of Consequences
from Youthanasia

Paloma and I saw Megadeth many years ago. In fact, I believe it was on the tour for Youthanasia. Fortunately, the tickets were comps as the venue was an ancient arena and the sound was dreadful.

However, Train Of Consequences is a monster. It sounds like a train, barrelling down the tracks full throttle with gear-grinding guitar and even a madcap bit of harmonica.

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4 Responses to Last Train Out Of Stubbville*

  1. Alex says:

    For me, the two most iconic train songs are Robyn Hitchcock’s “I Often Dream of Trains” (which always makes me think of looking out the window while traveling alone after dark) and XTC’s “Train Running Low on Soul Coal” (which seems to chug along fueled entirely by its own sense of doom & desperation).

  2. Perplexio says:

    What about Sheena Easton’s Morning Train (9 to 5), Soul Asylum’s Runaway Train, or The Doobie Brothers Long Train Running?

    Since moving from the city to the ‘burbs back in 2003, I really miss the El here in Chicago. It had character and the people-watching was delightful.

    And air travel is not as unsafe as you make it sound. I used to travel a lot on business and while airports are a major pain in the ass (checking baggage, going through security, etc.) and always leave me feeling like I need a shower, I don’t mind air travel.

  3. whiteray says:

    Nice choices. I tend to forget about “Peace Train.” From this side of the room, I’d throw into the mix Tom Waits’ “Downtown Train,” someone’s version of “Mystery Train” (maybe the one by The Band) and – from an odd corner – Josh Turner’s “Long Black Train,” a tune from 2003 that sounds like it could have come out of 1932.

  4. Dane says:

    I feel your pain re: air travel. Scares the bejesus out of me. I usually try to hoist a few before I board the plane. Or on it, failing that. I’m in Florida for Christmas (and oh yes, the sun and the breeze are lovely) and I fly back Sunday morning to the Ohio chill. Let’s hope there isn’t snow on the ground – I hate the idea of landing on snow and ice.

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