This Train Don't Stop
There Anymore
Songs From The West Coast
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22 KB
32 KB
Studio Version
Key: F Structure: A-B-C-A-B-C-D-B-C

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Another of the magnificent songs on this album, some might even argue that This Train is the best of them all. It's set to an easy going swing beat and, like the rest of the album, places Elton's piano and voice prominently in the mix. It again features a stripped down sound, not even a guitar in this one, and Paul Buckmaster adds an elegant but restrained string arrangement. Elton himself has compared this song to the breezy swing sound of Burt Bacharach.

The intro is in Ab. Elton does a tasteful little diatonic downward progression to the Db. At the end, he modulates to the key of F by dropping chromatically to the C7. The chromatic move lends a jazz feel. Along with the swing rhythm, it clearly establishes a smokey-bar ambience to the whole affair. Too bad Elton didn't bring in a stand up bass to complete the mood.

Now when faced with the swing 8th rhythm, there are two ways to notate: either with tuplet 8ths or with 16th notes. Neither one is strictly correct. I chose to use 16ths.

Elton sets the verse against one of the simplest and oldest of harmonic patterns, the I - vi - ii - V pattern, used by the great songwriters from the 1930's and the early jazz era. Elton spices it up with jazzy 9th and 7th chords. The melody is memorable and so very easy to sing along with.

Elton modulates from a C7th back up to the Ab for an 8-bar pre-chorus. This modulation works because there is a common note, i.e. C, between the two keys. This leads to the chorus which follows a IV - V - I - vi - ii - V - I harmonic pattern. Notice that this is only a slight variation from the verse, albeit in a different key. By ending on the I or Ab chord, this is a perfect segue back to the intro.

Bernie's lyrics are powerful and bittersweet. Elton's singing and phrasing wring every bit of heartfelt sentiment out of this tale of growing older, wisdom and reflection. Elton's train may not stop there anymore, but his brilliant songwriting continues its journey down the tracks.