westFirst time I heard the whistle from a diesel locomotive was a warm spring night in Austin, Texas. Still, after many a miles of steel against steel rolling through my dreams and ears, every time I see or hear one of those thundering engines pulling their tons of cars, I reminiscence that first chilling sound of that lonesome horn.

Last night, surrounded by the silence of the woods east of the town where I first heard that sound, the memory comes back in the words of a song from Slaid Cleaves–Hard to Believe. He sings about about not being able to leave the blue collar town he grew up in. I guess it’s a universal feeling, the want too to leave for something new and what better paints a picture of new adventures than a train taking you away to that other place.

Me, I dream about jumping aboard Amtraks Texas Eagle and head for the west Texas town of Alpine where they filmed the opening scenes of another wonderful picture about lifes journey–Wim Wenders Paris, Texas–with Harry Dean Stanton, in a state of confusion, finding his way through the dessert alongside seemingly abandoned rail road tracks under an enormous sky.

“When I looked into her smiling eyes
I saw dreams so fine
Like the Spirit of Chicago
On a lonesome old railroad line

I would have gone with her that day
I just watched her as she drove away
I guess one of us had to leave
It’s hard to believe”

So, a new year’s coming up which, for me, means making a 1975 Streamline–a long ways from any rail road track–my new home and work place. Seems my travels ain’t over by far and I promise my self to make next year a year of safer travels.

“We got old time bars
Still standing on downtown city streets
Old ladies serving drinks inside
With no color in their cheeks

Listening to a Haggard song
You can put your old blue collar on
It’s another New Years Eve
It’s hard to believe”

Happy New Year!

You can buy Slaid Cleaves’ music here.