Wednesday, November 02, 2011

This Train

mid-week gospel

Trains come, trains go, and trains pass. Sometimes they leave somebody behind, sometimes not. Sometimes they're not on schedule, and sometimes they just dis- appear. I personally use trains rarely in real life. But I wouldn't like to miss them, either. Trains mean a lot to me; my father was growing up in the train station of a small town, his father being the station master. And I guess that, in general, trains mean a lot even to people who don't use them.

They did, it seems, to the Holmes Sisters back in 1962. At least they recorded their blues gospel adaptation of »This Train« in Nashville in June '62, giving it the title »Gonna Ride This Train«. The original song was made famous by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, but she recorded a number of different versions of it, with many variations in the lyrics as well (see one here). Big Bill Broonzy then recorded the version that seems closer to what the Holmes Sisters waxed in 1962. However, the credits for the song on the 45 state »Robinson-Holmes«, i.e. Annie Robinson and Julia Marie Holmes. Their uptempo version has nice sonic gimmicks at the beginning and the end of the song ... and the surprising announcement Last Stop: Eternal Life! in the latter part. But best of all, here we have a wonderful duet of two voices that are so dissimilar in timbre, modulation and pitch to make for the perfect duet. What is more, the driv- ing guitars also echo, faintly, Elvis's »Mystery Train«. B-side is »Son Of Man«, with lyrics closely based on Matthew 24 and Luke 21; this song is credited to Robinson-Holmes as well.

My copy of Nashboro # 778 is a promotional copy. Although the songs were recorded in 1962, the single was released only in 1963. Don't know nothing else on the Holmes Sisters. Help appreciated.

Holmes Sisters: »Gonna Ride This Train« / »Son Of Man« on Nashboro # 45-778 (1963):


  1. What a wonderful post, H.M.S. Gonna Ride This Train is a fabulous song! Thank you so much for posting this gem. I'm very partial to black gospel and used to have a black gospel blog called 'Bless My Bones!' I'd been thinking about reviving it, but will wait and see how many of the records end up being included in the new venture first.

    I'm making progress - if I stay with my original number (doubtful @ only 200), I've only got 130 songs remaining to work on. I'll likely open it up (publicly or invite only) when I'm about half way through.

    Anyway, thanks again - now I'm going to play the Holmes sisters a few more times!

  2. Hi H.M.S., Hope my last comment went through, telling you how much I enjoyed the Holmes Sisters. I've left some additional gospel posts up on CTTT if you feel like having a listen.

  3. Thanks! I can't much use the net at the moment as the computer I'm mainly using isn't working as it should ... drives me pretty crazy! Hope to be back in a few days time ... I'm still sorting things out here