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ELDER MUSIC: Chattanooga Choo Choo

PeterTibbles75x75You never know who you're going to meet on the internet and I came to know Peter Tibbles (bio here) via email over the past couple of years. His extensive knowledge of most genres of music and his excellent taste became apparent only gradually (Peter's not one to toot his horn) but once I understood, I knew he needed his own column at Time Goes By - or, better, that TGB needed his column - which appears here each Sunday. You can find previous Elder Music columns here.

category_bug_eldermusic Time for another travelogue.

Choo Choo Train

This time we’re boarding the Chattanooga Choo Choo thanks to Glenn Miller.

Glenn Miller

I imagine there’s no need to tell TimeGoesBy readers about Glenn, you all know who he is. This tune was featured in the film Sun Valley Serenade and the vocals are by Tex Beneke, Paula Kelly and the Modernaires. It was number 1 on the charts for quite a long time.

♫ Glenn Miller - Chattanooga Choo Choo

Hey there Tex, what you say?
Step aside partner, it's my day
Lend an ear and listen to my version
(Of a really solid, Tennessee excursion)


There’s an obvious Tennessee song, Ballad of Davy Crockett. Just kidding. As you can see, there are a couple I could use but I’m going for the oldie but goody, Tennessee Waltz. Patti Page, of course, singing with herself.

♫ Patti Page - Tennessee Waltz

Pardon me boys, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?
(Yes Yes) Track 29!
Boy you can give me a shine
(Can you afford to board, the Chattanooga Choo Choo?)
I've got my fare
And just a trifle to spare

You leave the Pennsylvania station 'bout a quarter to four
Read a magazine and then you're in Baltimore
Dinner in the diner, nothin' could be finer
(then to have your ham and eggs in Carolina)

Well, what do we have here? Pennsylvania, Baltimore and Carolina. All good song places.

I’m going to play fast and loose with Pennsylvania and not have anything to do with that state (besides, the reference was to the station in New York), but continue the Glenn Miller theme. This is, of course, an old phone number.


Pennsylvania Six Five Thousand.

♫ Glenn Miller - Pennsylvania 6-5000

In a previous travelogue, I also had Baltimore and I wondered which of two fine songs I would feature. I needn’t have worried; now I can use the other one. This is the Baltimore lighthouse (I think; Baltimoreans can correct me if I’m wrong).


This tune is quite different from Glenn Miller. It’s Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris with Streets of Baltimore.

♫ Gram Parsons - Streets of Baltimore

The song only mentions Carolina, it doesn’t specify which particular one. That’s okay, there’s another song that also does that, Carolina on My Mind. Here’s one of the Carolinas.


The singer is James Taylor and he recorded this on his first album (the one before Sweet Baby James).

James Taylor - Carolina In My Mind

When you hear the whistle blowin' eight to the bar
Then you know that Tennessee is not very far
Shovel all the coal in
Gotta keep it rollin'
(Woo Woo Chattanooga there you are)

There's gonna be, a certain party at the station
Satin and Lace
I used to call funny face
She's gonna cry
Until I tell her that I'll never roam
(So Chattanooga Choo Choo)
Won't you choo choo me home.
Get aboard...
All aboard...
Chattanooga choo choo
Won't you choo choo me home

Don’t you like rhyming “coal in” with “rollin'”?

Another Tennessee reference. We can handle that. In fact, we can do it with a song whose title is reminiscent of the first Tennessee song. Indeed, it shares most of the title of that song. This is Jesse Winchester with Brand New Tennessee Waltz.

♫ The Jessie Winchester - The Brand New Tennessee Waltz

Nearly the end of the line.

To the east of Melbourne, where I live, there is a mountain range called The Dandenongs. We call it a mountain range; people from other countries may call them bits of hills. However you refer to them, there is an old, narrow-gauge railway that runs through these hills and the train that runs on it is called Puffing Billy.

Puffing Billy

I mention this for no particular reason except that we’re sort of training today. I’ll finish with a completely gratuitous train song by The Four Preps, Down By The Station.

♫ The Four Preps - Down By The Station


Thanks for taking us "training" with you. Beautiful country! Beautiful music!

For a few minutes there I was back in the Malt Shop with my High School pals playing the Juke Box. Glenn Miller was everybody's favorite. You really had my toe tapping with two of his better known arrangements. But my favorite was his theme song, Moonlight Serenade.

I love the really really oldies because my mind can fill in what my ears are not hearing. Thanks for the memories.

What a thrill to see you recognize the artistry of Glenn Miller. He and I (and thousands of others) are fraternity brothers. He pledged Sigma Nu at the University of Wisconsin, as I did many year later. Then, he transferred to the University of Colorado, where he became a full-fledged member. He flunked out of school there, but he certainly didn't flunk out of music. Thanks for this memory.

Great stuff, Pierre!

XX Gillybo

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