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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2022 7:55 pm
  

BlunderVirgin

Joined: Apr 06, 2022
Posts: 2
I do vintage train restoration here in California, and one of my coworkers said he thought the lyric in the first verse of City of New Orleans "freight yards full of old black men" might reference to old black steam locomotives that were being phased out and waiting in salvage yards to be dismantled and scrapped next to the "rusted automobiles." I'd never thought of this before, but it fits the theme of the song of trains becoming obsolete and disappearing.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2022 2:40 pm
  

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Arlo Fanatic

Joined: Sep 15, 1999
Posts: 8016
Marvin wrote:
I do vintage train restoration here in California, and one of my coworkers said he thought the lyric in the first verse of City of New Orleans "freight yards full of old black men" might reference to old black steam locomotives that were being phased out and waiting in salvage yards to be dismantled and scrapped next to the "rusted automobiles." I'd never thought of this before, but it fits the theme of the song of trains becoming obsolete and disappearing.


Well, I know there were actual black men in some freight yards, for a good while, at least, and by the time the song was written maybe some old school black men? (Meaning it was not a lost art on them).
Anyhow, I don’t know why it would be switched to mean an obsolete train?

That said, I am not the expert on the song or freight yards, but I don’t think it is a stretch to think the song was referring to actual men.

Those are my thoughts.

Maybe Arlo will chime in? I dunno.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2022 7:44 pm
  

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The Folkslinger

Joined: Nov 23, 1999
Posts: 1061
Images: 42
Location: Housatonic, MA
Well Steve Goodman will never tell us what he had in mind when he wrote the lyrics. I always assumed the reference was to people. :)


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2022 8:03 pm
  

BlunderVirgin

Joined: Apr 06, 2022
Posts: 2
adg wrote:
Well Steve Goodman will never tell us what he had in mind when he wrote the lyrics. I always assumed the reference was to people. :)


Thanks Arlo,

All these years I've always thought of people in the freight yards, but I was intrigued by the idea of a second meaning referring to the old locomotives. I've always loved you singing this song. It is so rich in imagery and meaning.


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