"City Of New Orleans" as written by and Steve Goodman....
Riding on the City of New Orleans
Illinois Central Monday morning rail
Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders
Three conductors and twenty-five sacks of mail
All along the southbound odyssey
The train pulls out at Kankakee
Rolls along past houses, farms and fields
Passin' trains that have no names
Freight yards full of old black men
And the graveyards of the rusted automobiles

Good morning America how are you?
Don't you know me I'm your native son
I'm the train they call The City of New Orleans
I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done

Dealin' cards with the old men in the club car
Penny a point ain't no one keepin' score
Won't you pass the paper bag that holds the bottle
Feel the wheels rumblin' 'neath the floor
And the sons of Pullman porters
And the sons of engineers
Ride their father's magic carpets made of steam
Mothers with their babes asleep
Are rockin' to the gentle beat
And the rhythm of the rails is all they dream

Good morning America how are you?
Don't you know me I'm your native son
I'm the train they call The City of New Orleans
I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done

Nighttime on The City of New Orleans
Changing cars in Memphis, Tennessee
Half way home, we'll be there by morning
Through the Mississippi darkness
Rolling down to the sea
And all the towns and people seem
To fade into a bad dream
And the steel rails still ain't heard the news
The conductor sings his song again
The passengers will please refrain
This train's got the disappearing railroad blues

Good night, America, how are you?
Don't you know me I'm your native son
I'm the train they call The City of New Orleans
I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done


Lyrics submitted by Monty, edited by meaning600

"City of New Orleans" as written by Steve Goodman

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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City Of New Orleans song meanings
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6 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentI love this song. It's always felt like a good childhood memory. (Maybe that's because that is what it is for me.) But still, there's that feeling of comfortable nostalgia in the way he sings it.
    Staron March 20, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti totally agree. my dad used to play this song all the time so it just sort of got burned into my memory. it gives me a great feeling. when i was really little i liked it just because its about a train, and he really does have a good singing voice. ive always loved it
    vinceismeon April 01, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti totally agree. my dad used to play this song all the time so it just sort of got burned into my memory. it gives me a great feeling. when i was really little i liked it just because its about a train, and he really does have a good singing voice. ive always loved it
    vinceismeon April 01, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy older cousins played this for me all the time when I was younger. When I got older I heard the line "Mothers sing their babes to sleep rocking to the gentle beat and the rhythm of the rails is all they feel." randomly one day. That was always my favorite line.
    neutral milkon January 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGraveyards of rusty automobiles...great image.
    czolgolzon March 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI always felt the writer was lamenting decline of the railroads in the 60s and 70s, particularly passenger trains such as the songs namesake. During this period the railroads were a dying industry and not too many people thought they would make the great comeback they did in the 80s and continue to this day.
    michaeln88on July 29, 2016   Link

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