Mystery Train

Mystery Train
"Mystery Train"
Single by Little Junior's Blue Flames
B-side "Love My Baby"
Released 1953
Format 7", 45rpm
Recorded 1953, Memphis Recording Service and Sun Records at 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Label Sun 192
Writer(s) Junior Parker, Sam Phillips
"Mystery Train"
Single by Elvis Presley
A-side "I Forgot to Remember to Forget"
B-side "Mystery Train"
Released 1955
Format 7", 78rpm
Recorded 1955, Memphis Recording Service and Sun Records at 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Genre Rockabilly
Label Sun 223
Writer(s) Junior Parker, Sam Phillips

"Mystery Train" is a song written by Junior Parker and Sam Phillips.[1] It was first recorded in Phillip's Memphis Recording Service and Sun Records at 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee in 1953. Raymond Hill plays tenor sax and Matt Murphy plays lead guitar with Bill Johnson on piano, Pat Hare on rhythm guitar, and John Bowers on drums. The band was listed on the label as Little Junior's Blue Flames. "Mystery Train" and "Love My Baby" were released late in 1953 on Sun #192, and from the beginning the sound and feel of "Train" gave Parker his first taste of fame and name recognition.

The following lines can be found in the Carter Family's "Worried Man Blues", their biggest selling record of 1930.[2]

The train arrived sixteen coaches long,
The train arrived sixteen coaches long.
The girl I love is on that train and gone."

Parker's version:

Train I ride sixteen coaches long.
Train I ride sixteen coaches long.
Well, that long black train carries my baby home."

Contents

Elvis Presley cover version

Elvis Presley's version of "Mystery Train" was first released on August 20, 1955 as the B-side of "I Forgot to Remember to Forget" (Sun 223). Presley's version would be ranked #77 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list in 2003.[3] It was again produced by Sam Phillips at Sun Studios, and featured Presley on vocals and rhythm guitar, Scotty Moore on lead guitar, and Bill Black on bass. Moore used a country lead break,[4] and toward the end of the record is an echo of the 1946 "Sixteen Tons" by Merle Travis.[5]

RCA Victor rereleased this recording in December 1955 (#47-6357) after acquiring it as part of a contract with Presley.[6] This version of the song peaked at # 11 on the national Billboard Country Chart.[7]

Although "Mystery Train" is now considered to be an "enduring classic", the flip side of this record "I Forgot to Remember to Forget" reached the Billboard National Country music chart #1 position by February 1956, remained there for 5 weeks, and stayed on the charts for 39 weeks.[8] The May 12, 1956 issue of Billboard listed "I Forgot to Remember to Forget" at the #1 "Country & Western" "Top Juke BOx Hit Records" for the period Januarty-April 1956 with no mention of "Mystery Train".[9] It was the first recording to make Elvis Presley a national known country music star.[7][10]

Black, who had success with the Bill Black Combo, once said to a visitor to his house in Memphis, as he pointed to a framed 78rpm Sun Record of "Mystery Train" on the wall, "Now there was a record."[11]

Presley's version of the song was also ranked the third most acclaimed song of 1955, by Acclaimed Music.[12]

Influence

The song has lent its name to several other works:

Artists who have recorded the song

References

  1. ^ Burke, Ken and Dan Griffin. The Blue Moon Boys - The Story of Elvis Presley's Band. Chicago Review Press, 2006. pg. 48. ISBN 1-55652-614-8
  2. ^ "American Experience | The Carter Family: Will the Circle Be Unbroken". Pbs.org. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carterfamily/sfeature/sf_song_pop_03_qry.html. Retrieved 2010-11-29. 
  3. ^ "Search Articles, Artists, Reviews, Videos, Music and Movies". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/6595922/mystery_train. Retrieved 2010-11-29. 
  4. ^ Blue Moon Boys. page 48
  5. ^ Tosches, Nick. Country - the Twisted Roots of Rock 'n' Roll. DeCapo Press, 1985. pg 54. ISBN 0-306-80713-0
  6. ^ Presley, Elvis (RCS Artist Discography) samples and labels
  7. ^ a b Elvis Presley's Sun Recordings
  8. ^ The Blue Moon Boys - The Story of Elvis Presley's Band. Ken Burke and Dan Griffin. 2006. Chicago Review Press. page 46. ISBN 1-55652-614-8
  9. ^ Billboard May 12, 1956. page 56
  10. ^ Collins, Ace (1996). The Stories Behind Country Music's All-time Greatest: 100 Songs. New York: The Berkeley Publishing Group. pp. 94–96. ISBN 1-57297-072-3. 
  11. ^ The Blue Moon Boys - The Story of Elvis Presley's Band. Ken Burke and Dan Griffin. 2006. Chicago Review Press. page 152. ISBN 1-55652-614-8
  12. ^ "Acclaimed Music Top 3000 songs". 27 May 2009. http://www.acclaimedmusic.net. 
  13. ^ Plasketes, George (1997). Images of Elvis Presley in American Culture, 1977-1997: The Mystery Terrain. Haworth Press. pp. 247–254. ISBN 1560249102. http://books.google.com/books?id=ABTk3bzu0pgC. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  14. ^ KFAI Radio Without Boundaries | 90.3 Minneapolis | 106.7 St. Paul
  15. ^ Gray, Michael (2006). The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. New York-London: Continuum International. p. 127. ISBN 0-8264-6933-7. 
  16. ^ catalog and sound samples, www.theconnextion.com/artgreenhaw

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