This Train Don’t Run

A song about time. I often recite Wendell Berry’s “Mad Farmer’s Liberation Manifesto” before I sing this.

Down around El Combate, on the rim of the Caribbean sea
There’s a fellow I met who lives down there
He’s someone I might want to be
A man of no single ambition, a man of no particular means
He lives on the snapper he pulls from the water
And plates of rice and beans
He says, “I rode the 5:07, I was New York to the core
Now I make a living collecting what washes up on shore
Some people tell me I’m shirking my responsibilities
But I’ve learned it’s none of my business
What somebody thinks of me

My train don’t go anywhere, it stays right here
I’ve just gone around in a circle and come back where I’ve begun
This train don’t run

He talks about shucking oysters in the same breath he talks about zen
He’s a little bit of Soren Kierkegaard
He’s a little bit of old Huck Finn
He’s a bundle of contradictions with a homespun philosophy
He says “Contradiction’s no problem, if you live it honestly
For years I rode those trains you know, I watched them come and go
I took them back and forth, they took me to and fro
But all that time, I never got closer to where I wanted to be
‘Til I was looking out the window of a train on day
And it suddenly occurred to me

My train don’t go anywhere, it still right here
It’s just gone around in a circle and come back where it’s begun
This train don’t run

Things seem to go much faster every single day
They pump all the oil out as quick as they can
So they can spill it on the bay
You split the second into a million parts
In the name of saving some time
But it seems that the faster I get things done
The more I leave behind
Stoke up the engines and open the throttles, it’s full speed ahead
But you never bother listening to the whistle that’s blowing
Somewhere inside your head
You pin your hopes on the next stop, you pin ‘em on a far off star
But all we’re ever gonna be is who we already are

This train don’t go anywhere, we’re just right here
We’ve just gone around in a circle to come back where we’ve begun
This train don’t go anywhere, this train don’t run
Our motions describe a circle to come back where we’ve begun
The train don’t run


© Bill Harley, all rights reserved. Reprints with permission only.

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