(I love trains, and I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t. Seriously. I’ve ridden them across Canada and the U.S. and Europe, the high speed TGV in France, the Eurostar, the ICE in Germany, the Canadian National up from Windsor to North Sydney, Nova Scotia, the Aztec Eagle in Mexico, the Amtrak Zephyr, Inter-American, Acela, and more than I can remember. I’ve tried to write about trains through the years but nothing I create ever seems equal to the experience. The story below has been picked at for more than a decade but it shows why I love trains. There seems a convergence of journeys and stories in every station and on each coach, regardless of where we are all bound).
“There were other lonely singers in a world turned deaf and blind who were crucified for what they tried to show. And their voices have been scattered by the swirling winds of time but the truth remains and someone wants to know.” – Kristofferson
In the morning dark, he stood in a cold corner at the entrance to the train station up in Michigan. A young blind man was sitting on a vinyl chair across from him and they had in common their guitar cases.
“Looks like a narrow case ya got there, Dave,” he said. “Must be electric, huh?”
“Yeah, yeah, it is.”
Dave pulled his white cane closer and tilted his head toward the voice. A cab driver had dropped him at the station, referred to him by name at the end of his daily routine, and said Dave’s ride to work would be along momentarily.
“How long you been playin’?”
“About ten years.” Dave had turned to face the speaker.
“Yeah, I’ve been at it about 40, myself,” he said. “I play acoustic. All I seem to do. Hours and hours on end.”
When I looked at the guitar man, I was reminded of the fictional conversation between the young Kris Kristofferson and the grayed and wrinkled musician in a Nashville bar. He sized up Kristofferson and his guitar and said, “It’s a rough life, ain’t it?” The answer was, “Yeah, I guess so.” “You ain’t makin’ any money are ya?” “You been readin’ my mail.”