I went to the West L.A. Farmers Market on Sunday to pick up some strawberries. (May is the month for strawberries. Rush to your nearest Farmers Market this month.) And when wandering around, I heard music coming from the performance stage. So, I headed over, as I occasionally do.
When I got there and could hear better, there was a two-person combo -- a keyboard and guitar -- performing, of all things, "The City of New Orleans"...in French! (The group's name was The French Toast. They were pretty good. The name is not.)
The version had a nice, warm, lyrical quality to it, with the older lead singer cheerfully bouncing on the balls of his feet most of the time. They changed the tune slightly for the "And I'll be gone 500 miles when day is done" part, just as Arlo Guthrie did, though not in his minor-key way, but a more French-sounding tone, where an accordion would have fit perfectly. You sort of expected Maurice Chevalier to appear.
I waited around to drop off a tip and ask if they were aware that this was National Train Day, wondering if that's why they were singing the song. I must say that they had one of the longest versions the song I've ever heard -- a musical interlude and either they repeated a verse or two, or just threw in something of their own. But I was quite happy listening to the song go on, and on.
Eventually, I got the chance to ask them. And they didn't have a clue what National Train Day was. The lead singer didn't even speak English all that well. So, they just happened to sing one of the greatest train songs on National Train Day.
C'etait merveilleux. Au revoir, America, comment allez-vous?
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor