Kansas City - Wilbert Harrison
While we're calling off the train stops across America, we could do worse the pause at Kansas City with Wilbert Harrison circa 1959. The shuffling railway style sounds more New Orleans than Kansas City, but where ever he's from (actually Wilbert was from North Carolina), he's in search of a good time. And who can blame him - his band's already hard at it with a truly terrific half-cut twangy guitar solo backed by rolling honky tonk piano. By the sound of things he's got some catching up to do:
"....I'm gonna be standing on the corner 12th Street and Vine with my Kansas City baby and a bottle of Kansas City wine
well, I might take a train I might take a plane but if I have to walk, I'm going just the same going to Kansas City Kansas City here I come they got some crazy little women there and I'm gonna get me one...."
and then one of those throwaway lines that I could never quite decipher. He seems to shout:
"ah but you know yeah moustache"
which for years remained a mystery until I discovered that the guitarist, the wonderfully named Wild Jimmy Spruill, did indeed sport one of those thin Sammy Davis Junior style moustaches.
"....now if I stay with that woman
I know I'm gonna die
gotta find a brand new baby
that's the reason why
I'm going to Kansas City
Kansas City here I come they got some crazy little women there and I'm gonna get me one
they got some crazy little women there and I'm gonna get me one."
Wild Jimmy was a legendary session guitarist working in the New York area, playing - often uncredited - on sessions by the likes of the Shirelles, Solomon Burke and Aretha Franklin amongst others. He died of a heart attack on a bus in 1996 at the age of 61, retracing part of the Night Train journey from Florida, where he'd been visiting his family, to his home in New York.
Harrison died two years earlier in a nursing home at the age of 65 of a stroke. Short lives. Looking from here in the UK, the land of free healthcare where warfarin capsules grow on trees, it's no wonder they wanted to have a good time while they could.