by Mike Wilson
The early eighteen hundreds, America was young. A new era of transportation was ushered in with the invention of the steam engine. In England, Richard Trevithick invented the first steam engine to run on roads, and George Stephenson soon adapted it for iron rails. America imported its first locomotives from England, but soon developed builders of its own. The railroad as we know it was born. It wasn't long before the railroads became the common carrier of choice, but there are many details and interesting facts between those two points in time. A fascinating history lesson awaits your students, just clicks away from your "Google" poised fingers.
The romance and mystique of the railroads have been the subject of many poems, stories, and songs through the years and, whatta ya know, here's another one. A very Americana approach was taken as we combined a bit of history with the wonder and romance of railroad travel in "Rollin' On." Of course, one should never write a train song without a harmonica, so it is featured on the recording in this very traditional setting. Also included are guitars, bass, piano, strings, and percussion instruments to create a "train" effect. You can help your kids identify those sounds right in the intro, primarily brushes and sand blocks. Another featured instrument you don't hear too often (unless you frequent the country music stations) is a low electric guitar called a Fender six-string bass or sometimes called a "tick-tock" bass. It is played here with a typical tremolo effect. You'll hear it throughout playing its tasty and supportive licks.
One thing for your consideration: We make an effort to ensure the notes/lyrical syntax match from verse to verse. The syntax is quite natural for verse one but it creates some syncopation for verses two and three. It works nicely enough, but if the syncopation proves to be awkward in your estimation, feel free to make adjustments. Also, we scooped and stylized as we thought appropriate. Your choir can do as much or as little as you feel fit. The idea is to make this folk style song sing as naturally as possible for your specific choir.
Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.