Song Lyric Sunday – Long Train Runnin’

Jim has given the most difficult prompt thus far for me. Not because I could not think of a song to feature, but because there were so many really worthy choices I had a hard time deciding. I think I changed my mind at least 10 times. The prompt instruction from Jim is: This week we have something totally different where you are supposed to find a song with a harmonica in it and hopefully this will fit for everyone.

My first marriage did not last very long, but I learned very quickly that we can always take away something good from a bad situation. In the case of my marriage, my positive takeaways were my daughter and my love for the Doobie Brothers. I do not think there is a Doobie Brothers song I do not have committed to memory.

The song I selected is “Long Train Runnin’ written by Doobie Brothers co-founder Tom Johnston. The song started out as a jam the band played at live shows, but it had no lyrics. It was a great ad-lib jam performance that often went on for half an hour during live shows. It had a few different names on the playlist for the band. ‘Parliament’ (a cigarette brand) and ‘Rosie Pig Mosley’ appeared among others.

Producer Ted Templeman finally pushed the band to record the song. According to Tom Johnston, the music always came first and easiest for him. Later the lyrics would be written to fit the music. When Templeman insisted they record it, Tom Johnson retreated to the bathroom in the Amigo Studios in North Hollywood where they were recording at the time to work out the lyrics. There is no particular meaning to the words and there is no mysterious Lucy in real life. According to Johnston, the tile in the bathroom provided great acoustics.

The song was finally finished and included on the 1973 album “The Captain and Me” and the song was the first (and a surprise first at that) from the album.

Tom Johnston plays lead guitar and sings lead vocals. He also plays the harmonica solo which was something they were not generally doing in live shows.

The Doobie Brothers had three eras. The Tom Johnston Era, the Michael MacDonald era (when Tom Johnston was ill and had to leave the group), and the reunion era. I loved the Tom Johnston Era most of all.

Long Train Runnin’
Lyrics from

Down around the corner, half a mile from here
See them long trains run, and you watch them disappear
Without love, where would you be now
Without lo-o-o-ove

You know I saw miss Lucy down along the tracks
She lost her home and her family and she won’t be coming back
Without love, where would you be right now
Without lo-o-o-ove

Well the Illinois Central
And the Southern Central Freight
Got to keep on pushin’ mama
You know they’re running late
Without love, where would you be now
Without lo-o-o-ve

Well the Illinois Central
And the Southern Central Freight
Got to keep on pushin’ mama
You know they’re running late
Without love, where would you be now
Without lo-o-o-ve

Well the pistons keep on turning
And the wheels go round and round
The steel rails are cold and hard
For the miles that they go down

Without love, where would you be right now
Without lo-o-o-ve ooh
Where would you be now

Mmm, got to get you, baby baby, won’t you move it down?
Won’t you move it down?
Baby, baby, baby, baby, won’t you move it down?
When the big train run
When the train is movin’ on I got to keep on movin’
Keep on movin’
Won’t you keep on movin’?
Gonna keep on movin’


Why not join in on this Sunday blogging ritual. If you want to “Listen to the Music” head over to Jim Adams’ blog to check out the rules and read some of the great responses to the weekly prompt.

30 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday – Long Train Runnin’”

  1. I had their albums from the start, and loved the band. Then later, when Michael McDonald spilt to go solo, I bought his records too. That led me to discover one of the saddest love songs I have ever heard.

    It still hurts me to listen to it, every time.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am a big Michael McDonald fan and I loved his solo career. This is a beautiful piece. I can understand how it reaches your heart. (Have you ever written such a love story, Pete? If so, I would like to read it.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome song choice, Maggie! What is it about harmonicas and trains anyway? They go together like cake and ice cream & peanut butter and jelly (even though I never liked them together). I loved the Doobie Brothers, but I also love Michael MacDonald as a solo artist. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It was my favorite challenge to SLS ever! I listened to every single song in full this week. I think Jim needs to do a steel guitar & fiddle challenge too. Maybe he will read this and offer it up. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a classic roo! I haven’t heard this tune for a long time, thanks for choosing it again as I love this song!


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