Midnight Train

Album: Heavy Love (1998)

Songfacts®:

  • Roger Reale wrote this song with Jon Tiven. Roger was a schoolteacher in Branford, Connecticut, and played in a band called The Manchurians. Jon had a band called The Jon Tiven Group, and recorded this song on their 1999 album Yes I Ram. They pitched the song to Paul Rogers, but he was writing most of his own material at the time. Buddy heard the song when his producer, David Z, brought it to his attention. Buddy made some changes to the intro and released it as the first single from the album.
  • Roger Reale told us regarding this song: "When I met Buddy Guy and he sang the song, I told him that I bought my first Buddy Guy album at 15. If someone had told me when I was in high school that he would be singing one of my songs, I would have said they were crazy. He said the lyrics to 'Midnight Train' appealed to him because he actually went to Chicago by train at 19, and that's what it felt like - he just had his guitar and no money. He said at that time in his life it was going from club to club - that's the way these guys did it, if you wanted to play, you had to cut the guy who was playing. You'd go up and play, and if they liked you, you stayed. If they didn't, you really knew because they'd tell you to get the hell out and not come back. These guys were all older, he was 19. Muddy and those guys were all older guys. They were in their late-30s and 40s, and they ruled that whole South Side. Here's me writing lyrics that he identified with, so you never know."
  • This is a duet with Jonny Lang, a young Blues guitarist who had a hit in 1997 with "Lie To Me."
  • Jon Tiven tells us that this song came from personal experience. Said Tiven: "I was waiting at the station, waiting for the midnight train, and it seemed like it never was going to come. I didn't know if that was a great song idea, but Roger and I, we just did this one chord jam, couple of riffs in it, and I said, 'I have this lyric that I wrote a couple of days ago that I didn't have any place for. Maybe this'll fit.' So I sang it and it seemed to have resonance with that music, and worked out great." (Here's our full interview with Jon Tiven.)

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