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City of New Orleans

Steve Goodman / Arlo Guthrie (1972)

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Riding on the City of New Orleans, Illinois Central, Monday morning rail.
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Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders, Three conductors, and twenty-five sacks of mail.
 
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All slong the southbound odyssey -- The train pulls out of Kankakee
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And rolls along the houses, farms and fields.
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Passing trains that have no name -- And freight yards full of old black men
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And graveyards of the rusted automobiles.
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Good morning America, how are you? Say don't you know me, I'm your native son.
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I'm the train they call the City of New Orleans, I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.
 
Dealing card games with the old men in the club cars, A penny a point, ain't no one keeping score. 
Pass the paper bag that holds the bottle, And feel the wheels rumbling 'neath the floor. 
 
And the sons of Pullman porters -- And the sons of engineers 
Ride their fathers' magic carpet made of steel. 
Mothers with their babes asleep -- Rocking to the gentle beat 
And the rhythm of the rails is all they feel. 
Good morning America, how are you? Say don't you know me, I'm your native son. 
I'm the train they call the City of New Orleans, I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done. 
 
Nighttime on the City of New Orleans, Changing cars in Memphis, Tennesee. 
Halfway home, and we'll be there by morning, Through the Misissippi darkness, rolling down to the sea. 
 
But all the towns and people seem -- To fade into a bad dream 
The steel rail still ain't heard the news. 
The conductor sings his songs again -- The passengers will please refrain 
This train's got the disappearin' railroad blues. 
Goodnight America, how are you? Say don't you know me, I'm your native son. 
I'm the train they call the City of New Orleans, I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done. 


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