When I wrote about a song called "Night Train" in a recent piece, I connected it to my high school marching band and my transition into becoming a football player. But aside from those memories, it's also a type of song that's very near and dear to me: a train song.
It's pretty common knowledge that old coots like me are often train buffs, but my fondness for choo-choos was a part of me long before I entered geezerhood. I came up with a theory about that recently, while listening to some of my treasure trove of train music. It ranges from the simple sound of Chet Atkins and "Freight Train," to the big band era's Harry James and "Waiting For The Train;" and that latter song's title relates directly to my theory. I think that I was train-deprived as a kid.
A quick disclaimer here: I had a comfortable childhood in a middle-class home, and I completely understand that a lot of kids had it much tougher. But when you're young, it's pretty easy to feel sorry for yourself when a couple of your friends have fancy train sets and you don't. I was entranced by the sleek black Lionel locomotives and the big humming transformers; and there were a lot of extras too. I remember that one kid even had tiny tablets he could put into the engine and it would make smoke come out. Neato!
Although I'm sure my parents went through some thin times, they weren't poor — but they were frugal. And like most parents, they sometimes had to judge whether a cheaper version of something might do just fine for their kid. So when I began agitating for a train set for Christmas, it might not surprise you to hear that they ended up getting me something a little less impressive than I'd visualized.