Mystery Train

Lyrics: Phillips, Parker
Music: Phillips, Parker

This was only played once by the Grateful Dead, on 8 November 1970, though it was played more frequently by Jerry Garcia with the JGB and by Bob Weir with Kingfish. It was also played by The Other Ones on 16 July 1998.

These are the lyrics as performed by the Dead:

Train I ride, fifteen coaches long (note 1)
Train I ride, fifteen coaches long
Well that long black train took my baby and gone

Train I ride, coming down the track
Train I ride, coming down the track
It took my baby, and it's never comin' back

Train I ride, fifteen coaches long
Train I ride, fifteen coaches long
Took my baby, you know it ain't never coming back

Train, train, going down the track
Train, train, going down the track
Took my baby, you know it ain't never coming back
The other versions are all slightly different, and all are different from the original Junior Parker/Elvis Presley versions. In particular, the number of coaches varies between 15 and 16! A selection of different versions is below.

This is the fullest version, by Jerry Garcia, issued as bonus track on "Reflections" in the box set "All Good Things"
Train I ride, sixteen coaches long
Train I ride, sixteen coaches long
And the woman I love, she's on that train and gone

Train, train, rolling round the bend
Train, train, rolling round the bend
Took away my baby, I'll never see her again

Well I went down to the station, meet my baby at the gate (note 2)
Asked the station master was the train a-running late
"Son, if you've been waiting for the four forty-four
I hate to tell you, boy, that train don't run here any more"

Train, train, rolling round the bend
Train, train, rolling round the bend
Took away my baby, I'll never see her again

Well I went down to the station, meet my baby at the gate
Asked the station master was the train a-running late
"Son, if you've been waiting for the four forty-four
I hate to tell you, boy, that train don't run here any more"

Train, train, rolling round the bend
Train, train, rolling round the bend
Well it took away my baby, I'll never see her again
Took away my baby, I'll never see her again
Took away my baby, I'll never see her again
Notes
(1) it's not clear whether the lyrics are "Train I ride ..." or "Train arrive ..." - I've seen both in lyric collections. "Train I ride ..." seems the more common version, though arguably "Train arrive ..." makes more sense.
(2) this verse comes from the additional lyrics written by Robbie Robertson for The Band's version. See also Greil Marcus's review of The Band's "Last Waltz" concert for further information. The Band's version also contains an additional verse:
Heard that whistle blow across the middle of the night
When I got down to the station the train was way out of sight
It seems that Jerry Garcia may have sung this verse on at least a couple of occasions in 1976 with the JGB. (thanks to Joe Barthel for this information)

Jerry Garcia Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     10 Jul 1973 Keystone Companions: The Complete 1973 Fantasy Recordings Garcia/Saunders
     12 Jan 1974 Keepers Merl Saunders/Jerry Garcia
      1 Sep 1974 Pure Jerry 4:Keystone, Berkeley Jerry Garcia & Merl Saunders Band
     14 Dec 1974 Garcia Live Volume 3 Legion Of Mary
      7 Jul 1975 Jerry Garcia Collection, Volume 1 Legion Of Mary
     31 Dec 1975 Garcia Live Volume 5 Jerry Garcia Band
     Studio 1976 Reflections Jerry Garcia Band (note 3)
     29/30 Jul 1977 Pure Jerry 1: Theater 1839 Jerry Garcia Band
     18 Feb 1978 San Francisco Bay Area 1978 Jerry Garcia Band
     18 Mar 1978 Warner Theatre Jerry Garcia Band
     22 Mar 1978 Garcia Live Volume 4 Jerry Garcia Band

Recordings from dead.net Tapers Section
 
Bob Weir Recordings
      3 Apr 1976 In Concert (King Biscuit Flower Hour) Kingfish
Notes
(2) also on the compilation Well Matched: The Best Of Jerry Garcia And Merl Saunders
(3) bonus track--listed as "studio jam"--on the reissued album included in the box set All Good Things

Other versions
Here is a selection of other Dead-related versions, along with the Junior Parker and Elvis Presley versions:
Garcia version on Live At Keystone Volume II
Train I ride, fifteen coaches long
Train I ride, fifteen coaches long
Woman I love, Lord she's on that train and gone

Train, train, running down the track
Train, train, running down the track
Took my baby, Lord you know it ain't coming back

Garcia version on Keepers (Merl Saunders And Friends)
Train I ride, fifteen coaches long
Train I ride, fifteen coaches long
Woman I love, she's on that train and gone

Train I ride, fifteen coaches long
Train I ride, fifteen coaches long
Long black train, took my baby and gone

Kingfish version on the King Biscuit Hour "In Concert" CD
Well the train I ride, sixteen coaches long
Train I ride, sixteen coaches long
That long black train took my woman and it's gone

Mystery train, rolling round the bend
Mystery train, rolling round the bend
You took my sweet thing, you know you won't be back again
Mystery train

Mystery train, rolling round that bend, rolling round
Mystery train, rolling round the bend
Took my sweet thing, you know you won't be back again

Mystery train, rolling round the bend
Train I ride, sixteen coaches long
That long black train took my woman now it's gone
Long black train, took my woman now it's gone

Elvis Presley version
Train I ride, sixteen coaches long
Train I ride, sixteen coaches long
Well that long black train carried my baby from home

Train, train, coming on round the bend
Train, train, coming on round the bend
Well it took my baby, it's gonna do it again

Train, train, coming on down the line
Train, train, coming on down the line
Well it's bringin my baby, 'cause she's mine oh mine

Junior Parker version
Train I ride, sixteen coaches long
Train I ride, sixteen coaches long
Well that long black train got my baby and it's gone

Train, train, coming round the bend
Train, train, coming round the bend
Well it took my baby but it never will again

Train, train, coming down the line
Train, train, coming down the line
Well it's bring my baby, 'cause she's mine oh mine
The versions by Junior Parker and Elvis Presley are available on many compilations. Most convenient is the soundtrack to the film "Mystery Train" which has both [Milan CD CH 509]. It has been covered by numerous others, sometimes under different titles (eg "Black Train Song" by The Doors - thanks to Christian Thwaites for pointing this out).


Futher Information
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography
For sheet music, see:
          Jerry Garcia Songbook (vocal line and chords)

 


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