Reuben’s Train

23 Apr

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[f#DF#AD tuning]

(aka “Open-D”, “Graveyard”, or “Reuben” tuning)

As with most Old Time songs/tunes, this one has many names.  It was first recorded in 1924 by Fiddlin’ John Carson as “I’m Nine Hundred Miles From Home”, and then again in 1927 by G.B Grayson and Henry Whitter as “Train 45”.  Since then, this classic number has been recorded by folks such Woody Guthrie, Wade Mainer, the Dillards, Martin Simpson, and Doc Watson.

As the story goes, Reuben was the first tune young Tommy Jarrell learned from a hired-hand on his father’s farm named Cockerham, who showed it to him on the banjo. Any and all versions from the Galax/Mt. Airy/Round Peak areas of N. Carolina seem to be the best known versions floating around today.

For more information, I’ll once again refer you to the Bluegrass Messengers pages dedicated to this great ol’ song (click here).

For the heckuvit, here are the earliest lyrics to appear in print:


5 Responses to “Reuben’s Train”

  1. Sam 04/25/2010 at 9:19 am #

    While yer in the Graveyard tuning, you can also be playing (or blogging about) Roscoe Holcomb’s version of Trouble in Mind, Lee Sexton’s John Henry, and the brilliant John Henry of James Roberts, Dink’s son.

    • 2ftlbanjer 04/25/2010 at 1:16 pm #

      Good ideas…I’ll put ’em on the list. Thanks.

  2. Chad 04/27/2010 at 9:49 pm #

    Added this one to the ones i’m working on, wanted to try a different tuning. Haunting melody hey. Appreciate your work man, keeping my interest peeked, nice to learn about these tunes to!

    • 2ftlbanjer 04/28/2010 at 11:22 am #

      My pleasure Chad. There are plenty more to come…I keep discovering tunes that work really well in the 2ftl style. Thanks for tuning in. -Sean

  3. Bart Brush 03/21/2017 at 10:14 pm #

    Two other RR songs sound great in this tuning: The Wreck of Old 97 and The Brave Engineer. Also, John Cohen told me at the Champlain Valley Festival in the 1990s that Roscoe Holcomb used this tuning for many of his songs that go way up the neck (and up the larynx, too).

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