Stephen McCarthy and Carla Olson
Photo: Markus Cuff / Courtesy of Hello Wendy

Stephen McCarthy and Carla Olson Rock “Here Comes That Train Again” (premiere)

As part of Americana Railroad‘s broader release on 17 June, Stephen McCarthy and Carla Olson rock an arrangement of “Here Comes That Train Again”.

Before recording began for Americana Railroad (Renew/BMG), the idea for a new album of railroad tunes was fresh on Carla Olson and Saul Davis’ minds for around a decade. The artists punted names back and forth—artists, songs, and labels—and ultimately decided to proceed with the development process. The result is a compilation of railroad songs new and old that span Americana, rockabilly, indie-folk, and more, featuring an impressive array of notable artists. These include John Fogerty, Dave Alvin, Rocky Burnette, Dom Flemons, Stephen McCarthy, Carla Olson, and others. They offer their respects to great songwriters and performers, from Elizabeth Cotton to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Hedy West, Curtis Mayfield, and Graham Nash.

Stephen McCarthy—of the Dream Syndicate, the Jayhawks, and the Long Ryders—was the first artist asked to join Americana Railroad. He and Olson command “Here Comes That Train Again” with rocking verve. The song rollicks on with jangling, atmospheric guitar and keys, and a driving percussion that feels reminiscent of the very railroad that their lyrics acknowledge. It is fabulous, airy Americana that wraps up before you know it and is a memorable opener for their LP.

Olson says, “When the idea of the Americana Railroad album began to become a reality, the first decisions needed to be made were ‘Which songs?’ and ‘Which artists?’ I had just sat in with Stephen McCarthy at the annual Wild Honey benefit concert in Glendale, the focus of which was Buffalo Springfield, so I talked with him about the idea, and he was enthusiastic. The second song I proposed recording with him was his own ‘Here Comes That Train Again’.”

McCarthy says, “The idea of the song was inspired by the sight of a steam locomotive rolling across the Shenandoah Valley. It evoked the feelings and memories of opportunities lost and unrequited love in motion. I wrote it for my band, the Long Ryders, but Carla and I rearranged it as a duet for Americana Railroad.”

Olson adds, “Stephen describes our version as a duet. To me, it’s not a traditional duet where the singers trade versions. Rather I harmonize with Stephen, ghost his voice, and add another layer of emotion. It was an obvious choice to be the album’s opening track.”

Americana Railroad will release on CD and digital on 17 June. Before this forthcoming release, it was a limited edition vinyl piece for Record Store Day in November 2021.

Americana Railroad

TRACKLIST

  1. “Here Comes That Train Again’ (Written by: Stephen McCarthy / Performed by: Stephen McCarthy and Carla Olson)
  2. “The Conductor Wore Black” (Written by: Chip Kinman, Tony Kinman / Performed by: Robert Rex Waller, Jr. with Chip Kinman on guitar)
  3. “Mystery Train” (Written by: Herman Parker, Sam C. Philips / Performed by: Rocky Burnette with Barry Goldberg on piano)
  4. “This Train” (Traditional / Arranged by Sister Rosetta Tharpe / Performed by: Peter Case)
  5. “City of New Orleans” (Written by: Steve Goodman / Performed by: John Fogerty with Mickey Raphael on harmonica)
  6. “Marrakesh Express” (Written by: Graham Nash / Performed by: Dustbowl Revival)
  7. “Train Leaves Here This Morning” (Written by: Gene Clark, Bernie Leadon / Performed by: Kai Clark with Byron Berline on fiddle)
  8. “Train Kept A-Rollin'” (Written by: Tiny Bradshaw, Howie Kay, Sydney Nathan / Performed by: Gary Myrick)
  9. “Southwest Chief” (Written and Performed by: Dave Alvin)
  10. “500 Miles” (Written by: Hedy West / Performed by: Alice Howe)
  11. “People Get Ready” (Written by: Curtis Mayfield / Performed by: Deborah Poppink)
  12. “Steel Pony Blues” (Written and Performed by: Dom Flemons)
  13. “Runaway Train” (Written by: John Stewart / Performed by: John York)
  14. “Waiting for a Train” (Written by: Jimmie Rodgers / Performed by: Paul Burch and Fats Kaplin)
  15. “Freight Train” (Written by: Elizabeth Cotten / Performed by: AJ Haynes of Seratones)
  16. “Whiskey Train” (Written by: Keith Reid, Robin Trower / Performed by: Carla Olson and Brian Ray)
  17. “Mystery Train” (Written by: Herman Parker, Sam C. Phillips / Performed by: James Intveld with Barry Goldberg on Hammond B3 organ)
  18. “Midnight Rail” (Written by: Steve Young / Performed by: Robert Rex Waller, Jr. with Todd Wolfe on guitars)
  19. “I Remember the Railroad” (Written by Gene Clark / Performed by: Stephen McCarthy and Carla Olson)
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