Great Song #8 – Wabash Cannonball

Bob Dylan says that a song is a dream and you try to make it come true.  Here’s another in a series of songs that dream up good stories…

“Wabash Cannonball” is a infectious classic with a driving beat. It enjoyed a number of resurgences in the mid-Twentieth Century and still radiates the romance of train travel. I thought of it because we’re headed to Minnesota next week. It has been recorded many times, notably by the Carter Family and Roy Acuff, and became a favorite on the Grand Ole Opry.

One of the great things about living today is to be able to find without leaving your chair answers to questions you’ve had for years.  I always wondered if there was a Wabash Cannonball train.  It seemed strange that the song celebrates places from Minnesota to Birmingham since the Wabash Railroad served neither. There was a Wabash Cannonball train, but it was named after the song, not the other way round. Apparently it’s just a song, without any basis in fact, perhaps referencing a mythical train that carried hoboes to heaven.

“From the hills of Minnesota, where the rippling waters fall. . .”

Here’s Roy Acuff’s version.

P.S. Not long ago two friends of friends of son Jack came to visit on a driving trip.  They were New Yorkers and were headed from here to Nashville.

Me: Are you going to see the Grand Ole Opry?
Our guests: The what?


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