Thursday, February 19, 2009

Trains: The Railpak Dun Done In The Del Monte

Sir Douglas Quintet - The Railpak Dun Done In The Del Monte [Purchase]

In January 1971, Doug Sahm returned to his native Texas after a five-year sabbatical in the San Francisco Bay Area. Once home, he cut his final album with the '70s edition of the Sir Douglas Quintet, The Return Of Doug Saldaña (available above as a two-fer with 1+1+1=4). According to Doug, "Saldaña is the name the Mexicans gave me. They said that I had so much Mexican in me that I needed a Mexican name."

"Railpak," cut in early '71, is Sahm's love letter to both Monterey County and "soulful trains," and is delivered as a kind of Woody Guthrie talking blues. The Del Monte was an actual Southern Pacific train line between Monterey and San Francisco whose service was discontinued on April 30, 1971. The picture above is from a great pictorial overview of the Del Monte's final Saturday run.

"Railpak" is a unique species in the Sahm canon, as I can't think of another song he did in the folkie troubadour style. In fact, other than "Oh Lord, Please Let It Rain in Texas," which follows "Railpak" on the Doug Saldaña LP, there are precious few songs with just Doug and an acoustic guitar. Enjoy.

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