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This track is about the legendary daredevil high-wire circus act, The Flying Wallendas, who refused to perform with a safety net, even when it started costing them their lives in fatal accidents. The troupe's founder, Karl Wallenda (1905-1978), continued to perform and refused to retire even after the deaths of many in his family. At the age of 73, he too fell to his death. In his obduracy, co-frontman Patterson Hood clearly sees something of Drive-By Truckers own rugged determination to go their own way.
Hood said in the album's liner notes: "I never really was all that into the circus as a kid, but I sure was into the Rock Show, which was sort of The Circus for kids of my generation. I went and wanted to join. I've been living on the road for much of the last two decades. I get tired and burned out, but I wouldn't trade it for anything."
Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum
Dave explains how the video appropriated the meaning of "Runaway Train," and what he thought of getting parodied by Weird Al.