Railway Widow's Blues

A song by John Warner (1996)
Margaret Walters - vocals,
John Warner - guitar and harmonica,
Kim Poole - double bass.

Come all you women, hear me complain,
don't mix with a man who drives a train,
Or you'll be sorry, you'll be blue
every time a train goes through.

You pack his crib the night before,
he's up and eating by half past four,
It's still pitch dark when he shuts the door
and you hear his train go through.

Many the night you lie and dream
of how you and him could raise some steam,
Shunting and coupling to and fro,
pull the regulator till the steam valves blow.

But you're all alone at the break of day
with your man two hundred miles away,
It's a 'barracks' shift so he's bound to stay
till another train goes through.

The right of way's just out the back
where the coal-train Garratts rumble up the track,
Dropping soot and cinders till your washing's black
every time a train goes through.

That man of mine, he's proud and tall,
moves his body like a cannon ball,
But he's off before dawn at the shift-boy's call
and another train goes through

Oh he'll be back in another day,
but you can't build dreams on a hogger's pay.
And when he's back home, how a girl could weep,
it's food and bath and 12 hours sleep.

So come all you women, hear me complain,
don't mess with those fellas who drive the train.
You'll be so sorry, you'll be so blue
every time a train goes through,
Every time a train goes through.


NSW railway enginemen on long trips were often away two or three days longer
than the journeys required as they stayed in barracks until rostered to
drive a return train. Family life was not considered important enough by the
authorities to allow of a return trip at the railway's expense.
The Garratt Locomotive was one of the world's biggest and belched massive
smoke plumes when fighting the steep grades in the Blue mountains and the
Hunter valley.

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