Some roads are only seen at night.
Ghost roads, nothing but neon signs.
But some nights the neon gas gets free,
And turns into walking dead like me.

And I’ve been making promises I know I’ll never keep.
One of these days I’m gonna leave you in your sleep.
I’ll have to go when the whistle blows;
The whistle knows my name.
Baby, I was born on a train.

Well I know that you were never young--
And I know you probably won’t get old--
But honey nobody’s gonna hurt you anymore,
And nobody’s gonna make you want to die.

And I’ve been making promises I know I’ll never keep.
One of these days I’m gonna leave you in your sleep.
I’ll have to go when the whistle blows;
The whistle knows my name.
Baby, I was born on a train.

I’ll go some cold and gray morning,
And you won’t remember anything.
But some people don’t believe in dying,
And some of us don’t believe in life.

And I’ve been making promises I know I’ll never keep.
One of these days I’m gonna leave you in your sleep.
I’ll have to go when the whistle blows;
The whistle knows my name.
Baby, I was born on a train.



Lyrics submitted by Alsatian

Born on a Train song meanings
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19 Comments

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  • +2
    General Commentok i created an account purely to respond to you two clowns. first of all, of course it is about vampires, the whole album is loosely vampire-inspired. second of all, since when have vampires been shallow? i could write a whole damn thesis on this album and its vampiric implications. christ. further, the arcade fire version is not better.
    sadeyedbabyon October 24, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentSadeyedbaby is right, the whole album is plenty of vampire references and this was acknowledged by Stephin Merritt himself. Other songs in the album are very explicit in its references, like Crowd of Drifters and I Have the Moon. I wouldn't take the risk of saying this is "a song about vampires" but as said up there, the album is loosely based in vampires (and drifting too, of course).
    PopMartyron May 22, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentQuite possibly the finest pop song ever written.
    heroinhotwateron March 18, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI like the line "Maybe I was born on a train" because the singer doesn't know where he was born, adding to the drifter/vampire persona.

    Killing, rather than leaving, the partner in his or her sleep steps up the theme of betrayal one notch. Maybe the small word change should be saved for the last time the chorus is repeated.

    I listened once to the Arcade Fire version. To me it's weaker - I believe less in the singer. But I'm less used to his voice - anyway, he comes off as more theatrical, more accessible but not to have ascended from the same e.motional depths as Merritt.
    caw1983on May 05, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSADEYEDBABY OTM I've heard the same thing about this being a vampire-themed album but I couldn't remember where; now I feel vindicated in a big way. Also OTM re: Arcade Fire's version, totally robs it of its mystery, although Arcade Fire rob any song they touch of its mystery.
    owennnnnnnnnnon August 29, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about vampires.
    owennnnnnnnnnon January 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentvampires? that seems like kind of a shallow interpretation, although i'm not super familiar with their songwriting style. do you really take "walking dead" and "don't believe in dying/don't believe in life" literally? i see it more as somebody with a travelling spirit that can't be tethered down by life in the "real world".

    i do love this song, and if the Arcade Fire do a cover of it, i'd love to hear it.
    littlevisigothon August 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentok its probably not about vampires but there should be more vampire related songs written I think. The melody and idea of this song is simple; someone not wanting to be tied down in a relationship, but its written so beautifully like most stephin merritt songs that I've never get sick of it.

    The arcade fire version is really easy to find. Just go to the KCRW website and find the arcade fire live performance where they played it along with some other magical music...
    Mattzillamanon August 28, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWow I'd love to hear the Magnetic Fields original - ..... but can't find it - The Arcade Fire version is great though - Vampires would be great, but its' pretty obvious lyrics - just can't commit - somebody who has to go on....no settling....love the tune and lyrics - it sounds like an old standard classic from your Grandpa's era.
    Lemonheadon January 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsadeyedbaby: Then you better write that thesis, because right now your theory is looking like weak coffee. That whole album is about drifting, hence the title "The Charm of the Highway Strip". Even if you disregard that, explain what a VAMPIRE has to do with being BORN ON A TRAIN. Please...
    hidispenseron May 12, 2007   Link

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