Ain’t Gonna Ride That Whiskey Train

eith Reid’s lyrics for Procul Harum have always been a preeminent part of the group’s presence. Reid as poet is a lyrical chameleon. From tracks like ‘Still There’ll Be More’ which is both scatological and frightening to ‘A Salty Dog’ whose tender lyrics command the gorgeous symphony treatment it received, Reid rarely tries the same trick twice, and just as rarely is he simple. Whatever he is, however, in the case of one of my favorite Procul Harum songs, simple seems to be exactly what he was trying for.’Whiskey Train’ from the album ‘Home’ opens with the linesPourin’ my bottle down the drainAin’t gonna ride that whiskey trainBy the time we reach these lines in the last verseGonna find a girl who’ll make me choose’Tween lovin’ her and drinkin’ boozeit’s clear that Reid was composing a simple, direct, country and western song. Fortunately Robin Trower got hold of it before it suffered such ignominy. Opening with Trower’s guitar blazing, BJ Wilson starts hammering his drum kit, trying to keep up. He never quite does, but he never quits trying. Trower seems bent on convincing us it was never a country song, but was meant to be screaming electric all along.

Keith Reid’s lyrics for Procul Harum have always been a preeminent part of the group’s presence. Reid as poet is a lyrical chameleon. From tracks like ‘Still There’ll Be More’ which is both scatological and frightening to ‘A Salty Dog’ whose tender lyrics command the gorgeous symphony treatment it received, Reid rarely tries the same trick twice, and just as rarely is he simple. Whatever he is, however, in the case of one of my favorite Procul Harum songs, simple seems to be exactly what he was trying for.

‘Whiskey Train’ from the album ‘Home’ opens with the lines

Pourin' my bottle down the drainAin't gonna ride that whiskey train

By the time we reach these lines in the last verse

Gonna find a girl who'll make me choose'Tween lovin' her and drinkin' booze

it’s clear that Reid was composing a simple, direct, country and western song. Fortunately Robin Trower got hold of it before it suffered such ignominy. Opening with Trower’s guitar blazing, BJ Wilson starts hammering his drum kit, trying to keep up. He never quite does, but he never quits trying. Trower seems bent on convincing us it was never a country song, but was meant to be screaming electric all along.

I, for one, agree.

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