The #1 song this week on our Bluegrass Today Weekly Airplay chart is Rhonda Vincent’s crisp and satisfying bluegrass cover of the enduring classic, City of New Orleans. One of the most popular train songs or the past two generations, it was written and first recorded by Steve Goodman in 1971, and became an international hit for Arlo Guthrie a year later. The song has been translated and recut in Dutch and German, and reappeared atop the charts in 1984 when it was memorably recorded by Willie Nelson.
The train which gives the song its title is a line that still runs today, leaving from Chicago and then following the Mississippi River down to New Orleans. Goodman’s lyrics take a wistful look at rail travel, recognizing that once this train was the primary means of traversing the mid-section of this country, though it has since become an afterthought for many people.
Rhonda and the Rage give the song a complete bluegrass makeover, presented here in a clever music video that places the band within a model train city, while Vincent stands above looking down. With Rhonda on mandolin and lead vocal, we also have Zack Arnold on guitar, Aaron McDaris on banjo, Jeff Partin on reso-guitar, Adam Haynes on fiddle, and Mickey Harris on bass.
Check it out…
City of New Orleans from Rhonda Vincent & The Rage is available now as a single from popular download and streaming services online.