The Allman Brothers Band

A Train Like No Other

By: TanDan
January 6, 2006

There is a train that exists that has no schedule.

It is never late and always has room for one more passenger, no matter how full. It is not the ‘Peace Train’, nor ‘The City of New Orleans’. This train has no name and it’s track goes around the globe. The track reaches from Macon, Georgia to Sweden….to London…to Italy, and places far beyond. The track is constantly being laid down by invisible hands that never tire. It crosses oceans, it climbs mountains.

This train is like no other. It is old and new at the same time. It seems ageless, and then not a part of any age. It has no station to stop at, and yet will stop for anyone that sees it approach, no matter what the landscape. Just takes a second…hop on board!

I want to tell you about this train by telling you about a glove that fell off of the rail on the caboose. It is an old story and I am not the first to tell it. So here goes…

There is a train that exists that has no schedule.

It is never late and always has room for one more passenger, no matter how full. It is not the ‘Peace Train’, nor ‘The City of New Orleans’. This train has no name and it’s track goes around the globe. The track reaches from Macon, Georgia to Sweden….to London…to Italy, and places far beyond. The track is constantly being laid down by invisible hands that never tire. It crosses oceans, it climbs mountains.

This train is like no other. It is old and new at the same time. It seems ageless, and then not a part of any age. It has no station to stop at, and yet will stop for anyone that sees it approach, no matter what the landscape. Just takes a second…hop on board!

I want to tell you about this train by telling you about a glove that fell off of the rail on the caboose. It is an old story and I am not the first to tell it. So here goes…

A weary traveler stood against that rail watching the station as the train pulled out. Wanting a smoke, or just fresh air, this person ended up on the last car. Taking off a pair of gloves, the person placed them on the rail. The train suddenly jerked into gear and one of the gloves fell off. It was too late to get off the train and retrieve the glove.

A small boy sitting at the station happened to see it fall onto the track and he picked it up and started to chase the train, trying to return the glove to the hand reaching across the rail. Each time the glove was thrown, it almost made it but would fall short. The boy wouldn’t give up, running as fast as his little legs would let him—

More about the train…

Moving forward from the caboose you will find a car of baggage. The riders may go here occasionally, but they usually try to leave this collection alone. One may venture thru this car to reach the caboose, but those that insist on staying here will find that their key doesn’t always fit the locks. Some bags are old and some are just a bundles of cloth tied with a knot. It’s baggage…duh!

The party cars are next. Jell-O shots and strange hats are available for all to enjoy. Nobody is pressured into anything. Soda and water stand equal with beer and Vodka. There is smoke if you want it and smoke free if you don’t. There is New York Cheesecake and pots full of Mama Louise’s fixin’s from the H&H. Ice tea so sweet your teeth will crack! All plates are steaming hot and overflowing. There are Lucky Dog’s and Nathan’s, there is most anything that you can think of and some you can’t.

The music in this car is always changing. Some nights a cat named Lefty Collins brings his band. Sometimes Sky Ponies and Blue Dad’s play with Willie Howard’s all night long. There are Gallagher’s and Hopkins and Booth’s and…well, you get the drift. It’s a happening place, these party cars. The sounds produced will almost surely make you laugh or cry or remember or pause. Ain’t no disco and ain’t no techno. Roots music it is called by some. It is said that fellow travelers looking out these windows can see reflected wondrous reflections of Charly Patton..Robert Johnson…Blind Willie McTell. Nobody doubts these tales. I myself think I saw Little Milton reflected once.

Beyond the party cars there are the ‘Magic Cars’. Old archives are mined and transformed here. Lost concerts are suddenly new again. Magazines are stacked to the ceiling, all with ‘Note’ in the title. In one corner CaptSkipper and Clay join Denza in reworking an old tapestry of sound or image into a new discovery. It’s best to leave these guys alone when they are working, so tip-toe by, sneak a peek, of course! This is also the mail car. Packages are coming and going to all ends of the earth. Mostly CD’s shared, but often there are cards and letters, sometimes to people you’ve never met. Hop’s tales get sent out here.

The sleeper cars are next. Some look like hotel rooms or motel rooms and a whole lot that look strangely like camping tents! Here’s one that says ‘Helen’s Hilton’, here’s another with a key that says The Beacon, another says The Georgia Terrace. Very strange, these rooms, they seem larger than one would expect in a train car. Oh well…I don’t think much sleeping gets done here. Perhaps just an extension of those party cars. A spot to rest your head.

Pausing between cars, one notices the scenery and how it changes. A city one moment, a mountain the next. I overhear that we will be going through The Six Nations shortly. Everybody re-checks themselves, assuring they have their necklaces. Someone saw Big Ben once, another a warehouse in New Orleans.

We are almost at the engine.

Passing through the coal car, we see Hemlock stoking the engine. He’s always ‘burning one’. This isn’t his assigned spot, he’s just taking his turn, doing his part. You see, on this train we all take turns in some fashion, moving the train down the track.

We now enter the engine compartment. Please close the door. There before you is an empty car with gauges and knobs and levers and things. Who is driving? What if we jump the track? You climb onto the lone seat and grasp the lever. You look at the many dials and gauges, trying to obtain a clue. There covered in soot is a brass plate which you wipe frantically. “Built by Rowland & Lana”, the year 19- something. At once, you realize that it is your turn at the helm, your time to be here and no place else.

The train starts slowing and all the music stops. All is quiet as we pass the one place where this train proceeds so slow it is almost a crawl…on one side of the track is a lazy southern river… on the other is a hillside where the grass still grows…over there, a little girl stands holding flowers… if you know where to look, the name “Reed” is etched in stone. All is quiet here and everyone is standing with respect, every face a silent visage.

If the train always moved this slow, perhaps the lost glove would’ve been returned. The train slowly picks up speed….the beginning notes to ’southbound’ begin. The journey continues. We’ll pass this way again soon, so no tears today.

About that glove. Try as he might, the little arms could never quite toss the glove the distance. The train was too fast, too big, and too massive.

Suddenly the person standing against the rail raised a hand, motioning for the lad to end his fruitless task. The boy stopped and stood there holding the one glove. He watched in amazement as the second glove was tossed at him! Two people each holding one glove, or one person holding two. A choice had been made. The boy smiled as he picked up the tossed glove. He waved at the train knowing he would someday be a passenger. He put on the gloves and they fit perfectly! Some say it was the Tour Mystic who threw that glove. Some say it was you and I. All I know is that there was a smile and a twinkling eye.
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I’d like to think that we are all passengers on some Grand Train spreading the word of the music we love throughout the world. We share it freely with all who will listen as it has been shared with us.

The waving guy sitting on top of the train wearing yellow slippers?

That’s for another time. The train continues on down the track…

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