Whether you know it or not, we are right in the middle of the European Year of Rail, which is the inspiration for this little playlist. It’s not explicitly about rail or Europe, but more about a state of mind, a feeling of going somewhere for whatever reason.
These tracks are a bit of a mix, a few that explicitly reference train travel, and a bigger number that just somehow evoke a feeling of it. Just like journeys, some are long and some are shorter, checking in at everything from a couple of slices of brilliance that last less than three minutes, up to ten minute long epics by Bowie and Kraftwerk.
Station to Station by David Bowie
This song is much more about the tension at the heart of addictive behaviours than it is about train travel, but what better way to start a mixtape of anything train related than with that first minute of sweeping rail soundscape.
The World At Large by Modest Mouse
While there isn’t a method of transport mentioned anywhere in the song apart from walking, it’s a journey and one that is easy to imagine as the soundtrack to a railway journey across a continent, interspersed with walks around assorted European cities.
I Know Places by Lykke Li
Essentially it’s a sombre and nostalgic love song. Whether the places are physical or just emotional states isn’t really important, they are still somewhere that need to be travelled to.
Blizzard by Fauve
It’s a song about love, friendship, and a journey of self-discovery, and isn’t that what travel is all about?
Whether you understand the lyrics in French or not, it’s a beautiful thing to listen to.
Europe Endless by Kraftwerk
The most literal song on this list, it’s the first track on the album Trans-Europe Express, and is quite simply about a train journey across the continent.
Hannah & Gabi by The Lemonheads
No justification is needed for including a track from It’s a Shame About Ray on any playlist ever, but in this case it’s the sublime opening lines
“Got me watching your eyes watching things go by outside, Out the window of a train”
Homeward Bound by Simon & Garfunkel
Sometimes trains take you to the places that you really want or need to go the most, sometimes people write songs about it…
Ticket to Ride by The Beatles
…and sometimes they take you away from those places, or take others away, whether you like it or not.
The Day We Caught The Train by Ocean Colour Scene
The train catching in this song is a reference to Quadrophenia, but it also highlights the way that you can hop on a train and start a new chapter of just about anything.