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Here's a version of a song which you will know well.. been recorded a million times. However I felt that I could do it in my own way, while at the same time staying true to the original melody and lyrics, which I think have a charm of their own. (Why do people mess about with things)?
Elizabeth Cotten wrote this song when she was 12 years old. She went on to work as a maid for most of her life, and meanwhile the song had a life of its own.
Firstly the song got exported to England, where it was re-written and ripped off by unscrupulous music biz people, and became a big hit in the Skiffle period. Elizabeth, of course, got nothing from this.
However, many years later, by an extraordinary instance of happenstance, she found herself working for none other than the Seeger family.. folk royalty. And the story goes that she was singing around the house one day when one of the family asked if she had ever sung professionally, and was amazed to discover that the maid was the writer of the famous 'Freight Train'.
And so Elizabeth found a new career, performing at concert halls across America and winning a Grammy for her live album. Dreams do come true.
So I've tried to stay true to Elizabeth's original concept of the song, while adding my own guitar style with some slide on my Oxfam Special and a couple of solos on the Strat. I don't know if it's Blues, Folk, Americana or Skiffle - doesn't matter really. I hope you enjoy the music.
'Freight Train' by Elizabeth Cotten.
Recorded by Mick Clarke at Rockfold Studio, Surrey 2023.