Friday, February 20, 2009

Trains: Train Song

Vashti Bunyan: Train Song


Being a coverblogger means discovering the past through the present as much as it means rediscovering the familiar through good coverage. Case in point: Vashti Bunyan's 1966 single Train Song, which I recently went back to after hearing the stunningly anachronistic harmonies Feist and Ben Gibbard bring to their recent version of the song on Dark Was the Night, this year's incarnation of the Red Hot and Blue compilation, which has been sweeping all the big indieblogs for the last few weeks.

Feist and Gibbard are nothing to sneeze at, of course, and their cover certainly does the song justice. But Bunyan's original is the true trainsong, bringing the light ch-ch-ch of a latenight train to her guitar, layering the miles of memory on top with strings and lead guitar, finally floating her etherial lyrics of travel and longing over the whole thing. It's the perfect cinematic atmosphere for the sentiment, and a happy development for all of us that the modern freakfolk movement has helped us rediscover Bunyan, thus prompting the 2007 rerelease of this reel-to-reel.

Note: As Dark Was the Night is both new and for charity, I'm not sharing the Feist/Gibbard cover; if you're an indiefolk fan who hasn't heard it yet, samples can be had here.

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