Songs for trains

The train, a source of inspiration for numerous forms of art, obviously has a frequent presence in popular songs. All over the world, there are numerous songs referring to trains or railroad travel. Waiting on the pier, the anticipation of a get-together, a trip to an unknown land or the return to a familiar place are subject matters that have shaped one of the most familiar expressions of art over time. In the international music scene, one can think of songs that marked rock history, like Neil Young’s “Train of Love”, favorite jazz tunes like Duke Ellington’s “Take the A Train”, as well as pop hits like Electric Light Orchestra’s “Last train to London”. Next to them, there are numerous Greek songs related to trains and travel. Personal experiences, stories overheard by song makers and turned into songs, the experience of an entire era, all became songs that were sung by thousands of people and shaped Greece’s collective popular culture. Songs about joy and sadness, about entertainment and solace, about love and parting. One recalls the great Manos Hadjidakis’ “Paei efyge to traino” (“Alas, the train is gone”); the sad “Traina pou fygan” (“The trains that set off”) composed by Stavros Xarhakos on lyrics by Vangelis Goufas and sung exquisitely by Vicky Moscholiou; or “Gyrizan ta traina” (“The trains returned”), composed by Giannis Spanos on lyrics by Lefteris Papadopoulos – a song with a distinct political message hidden behind a love story. Also, one recalls “Kapoio Traino” (“A certain train”) composed by Demos Moutsis on lyrics by the poet Nikos Gatsos (the first song that popular singer Dimitra Galani recorded) as well as “Kane kati na chaso to traino” (“Make me miss the train”) by Takis Mousafiris, which despite its original lukewarm reception eventually became one of Dimitris Mitropanos’s greatest hits. Trains also inspired contemporary Greek rock bands, such as Trypes («Traino»/Train) and Xylina Spathia («Τραίνο-Φάντασμα»/“Ghost Train”).

Regardless of their style, songs about trains usually express deep emotions, as the trains are linked with partings, insecurity, immigration in search of a better life or, perhaps, hope for the future.



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