As you will hear in the second episode of PorchLight, musicians have a special affinity for trains. I believe that’s because they combine both melody and rhythm. The lonesome whine of the whistle. The steady click of the tracks. Close your eyes and listen to it for awhile and it takes you somewhere else. Just like music.
Right on cue as I write this: the steady horn from a coal train that still passes through our town. I do not take this pleasure for granted. Like songbirds and newspapers, train lines are threatened daily with extinction. No, maybe not be disappearing completely over the course of your lifetime. But maybe that maybe depends on just where you’re living over the next ten years.
Of course, the passenger train in America, like the bluebird and the afternoon edition, are vanishing at a much faster rate. I mistrust the ceremonial bucket list even as I continue to write my daily tasks on scrap paper. So how do I reconcile the two and commit to a train trip of some meaningful length before I wind up kicking myself someday?
It’s not so much that I mistrust the continued indifference of market forces, the public sector, and the traveling public to adequately sustain passenger rail service. Actually, I have earned my own mistrust. I am someone who professes to love trains. Yet I haven’t ridden in one for years. Well, I’m the source of the problem, aren’t I?