The Gone Dead Train

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Here’s a badass tune by another great yet obscure musician, King Solomon Hill. A strikingly dark song, that has an eerie quality to it.

Listening to the whole song, it’s not easy to really get a sense for what he’s doing. Unlike other songs by other guys, King Solomon Hill doesn’t play through the whole chorus the same way once, which – not gonna lie – makes it hard as hell to understand.. it’s like he’s purposefully trying to throw you off his scent and deceive you haha. BUT, with that being said, there are some patterns he uses throughout the song, with those common moves, it gives at least a very rough framework to fill in the gaps, and those gaps are the interchangeable, mix & match moves that you can throw in to be like mortar between the bricks.

Yet, there are some giveaways, although very very little. Though it sounds mysterious and slippery to learn, you can “land the fish” eventually – there is rhyme to the reason and an answer.

For instance, coming out of the ‘2nd Section’, he almost always plays that spider-lick to cap things off and get into the turnaround. Then, on the turnaround, he almost always starts with that bend on the 2nd fret of the 6th string, along with some other bass-side moves. It’s nice to start to see that there’s some method to the madness, it helps to make you feel a little more comfortable, instead of listening to the song and just hearing a void of (really well-played and cool) guitar riffs. It can be a big help to also pull up the lyrics to a song that’s extra ‘voidy’ like this, and sing the lyrics to the song to yourself just to help give it some shape and get a sense of how the licks are placed around the lyrics.

Also, a good thing is that with his style, after you learn this song, you’re pretty well-equipped to play his other stuff, like Whoopee Blues.

Lastly, not all the licks are shown in this lesson – more so about 70%. Getting the structure though is really helpful to learning the licks though, which is why that’s more so the emphasis. Ideally it’s like, “okay now I know there’s this empty block of time where I can play these 3 licks, then he sings, then the chorus is finishing up and I’ve got the option to just throw in my own slide lick and then cap it off with, say, that spider lick” that kind of thing. So I really hope this helps clear the mud and gives a better sense of this classic King Solomon Hill tune!

Year of Recording
January 1932
Grafton, WI
Record Label
Paramount 13129

And I'm goin' way down Winden
Lord, I'm gonna try to leave here today
Tell 'em I believe I'll find my way
And that train is just that way

Gotta go on that train
I said I'd even broke my jaw job
Boys, if you out and runnin' around in this world this train will wreck your mind
Spoken: Your life, too

Lord, I once was a hobo
I crossed a many a point2
But I decided I'd go down the frog3 travelin' light
And take it as it comes
Spoken: I reckon' you know the fireman and the engineer would, too

There are so many people have gone down today4
And this fast train north and southern traveling light and clear5

Oooo-ooh, I wanna ride your train
I said, "Look here, engineer, can I ride your train?"
He said, "Look here, you oughta know this train ain't mine and you're asking me in vain"

Said, "You go to the Western Union, you might get a chance"
Spoken: I didn't know the Western Union run no train
Said, "You go to the Western Union, you might get a chance"
You might get wire to some of your people and your fare will be sent right ahere
Spoken: Hadn't thought that's the way it is

I wanna go home, and that train is done gone dead
I wanna go, that train is done gone dead
I done lost my6 wife and my three little children, and my mother's sick in bed

Oooo-ooh please, help me win my fare
'Cause I'm a travelin' man, boys I can't stay here