Love Train

Album: Back Stabbers (1972)
Charted: 9 1
Play Video


  • It was 1973, the height of the Philadelphia soul genre was dawning, and "Love Train" came along with just the right sound at just the right time. It was written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, producers for the O'Jays. The team of Gamble & Huff would go on to write and produce over 170 gold and platinum records - and they also wrote "Back Stabbers" and "For The Love Of Money," two more key songs in the O'Jays' career.
  • The lyrics make a call for unity and world peace, mentioning England, Russia, China, Egypt, Israel, and Africa. "Love Train was the first of our big message songs," O'Jays singer Walter Williams told The Guardian. 1972 was explosive – Vietnam was rumbling on, the rich were getting richer - so it was the perfect time to sing about social issues. The song mentioned places that were having human rights problems, but in a positive, hopeful way: "The first stop we make will be England... tell all the folks in Russia and China too."
  • According to Eddie Levert of the O'Jays, when they started working on this song, it didn't have lyrics. Kenny Gamble wrote them on the spot in about five minutes. "By the time we started laying down the vocals, we knew we had a hit," he told The Guardian. "Love Train felt like destiny. It had such perfect, timeless lyrics that it was almost as if they’d come from God, and we had to deliver them to the people."
  • The O'Jays made a music video for this song, mainly for airing in Europe, where many shows played these clips. In the video, the O'Jays take a group of children on a train to Griffith Park in Los Angeles.
  • To honor their contributions to Philadelphia Soul, the BET network awarded the O'Jays a lifetime achievement award, which was presented by the Soul Train creator Don Cornelius.
  • This song was a big part of the satirical 2010 "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear," put on basically by the Comedy Central network. The "rally" included songs with a train theme, so they got "Love Train," Ozzy's "Crazy Train," as well as "Peace Train." A merry time was presumably had by all.
  • This song was played at the 2016 Republican National Convention, where Donald Trump was nominated. A version called "Trump Train" also appeared.

    Use of the song did not sit well with the O'Jays, who were not asked permission. Eddie Levert and Walter Williams responded with a statement saying they were asked to appear at the convention, but declined, as Trump was "Divisive and at odds with the overriding message of their song." Williams later said, "We're about unity, not division. Trump says he's gonna make America great again. I would ask him: 'When was it not great for you?' My dad didn't give me a million dollars. What a joke."

    The O'Jays song "For The Love Of Money" was the theme song to Trump's show The Apprentice.
  • The song has been used in numerous TV and film soundtracks, as well as in popular commercials for Coors Light.

    Movies to use the song include:

    Earth Girls Are Easy (1988)
    Dead Presidents (1995)
    The Last Days of Disco (1998)
    The Out-of-Towners (1999)
    Undercover Brother (2002)
    Hitch (2005)
    The Martian (2015)

    Among the TV series in which it has appeared:

    The Wonder Years ("Nose" - 1993)
    Justified ("Decoy" - 2013)
    Crossing Jordan ("Born to Run" - 2001)
    Cold Case ("Fireflies" - 2006)
    Saving Grace ("Would You Want Me to Tell You?" - 2007)

Comments: 2

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1973 {April 14th} the O'Jays performed "Love Train" on the Saturday-afternoon nationally syndicated television program, 'Soul Train'...
    At the Time "Love Train" was at position #18 on Billboard's Top 100 chart, three weeks earlier it had peaked at #1 {for 1 week} and in spent fourteen weeks on the Top 100...
    And it also reached #1 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart and #9 on the United Kingdom's Singles chart...
    Between 1965 and 2004 the Ohio soul group had fifty-eight records on the Hot Soul Singles chart, twenty-five made the Top 10 with ten reaching #1...
    They just missed having a total of thirteen #1s when three of their records peaked at #2, "Time To Get Down" {1973}, "Put Your Hands Together" {1973}, and "Don't Let Me Down" {1991}...
    Original member Bill Isles passed away last month on March 28th, 2019 at the age of 78...
    May he and Don Cornelius {1936 - 2012} R.I.P.
  • Bill from UsEven though this song was written in the first days of Disco it is a classic scene at the end of Witt Stillman's The Last Days Of Disco, where everyone goes through the 4th wall and starts dancing on the subway. Who can sit still for a song like this?
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Director Mark Pellington ("Jeremy," "Best Of You")

Director Mark Pellington ("Jeremy," "Best Of You")Song Writing

Director Mark Pellington on Pearl Jam's "Jeremy," and music videos he made for U2, Jon Bon Jovi and Imagine Dragons.

Intentionally Atrocious

Intentionally AtrociousSong Writing

A selection of songs made to be terrible - some clearly achieved that goal.

Macabre Mother Goose: The Dark Side of Children's Songs

Macabre Mother Goose: The Dark Side of Children's SongsSong Writing

"London Bridge," "Ring Around the Rosie" and "It's Raining, It's Pouring" are just a few examples of shockingly morbid children's songs.

Gary Louris of The Jayhawks

Gary Louris of The JayhawksSongwriter Interviews

The Jayhawks' song "Big Star" has special meaning to Gary, who explains how longevity and inspiration have trumped adulation.

Michelle Branch

Michelle BranchSongwriter Interviews

Michelle Branch talks about "Everywhere," "The Game Of Love," and her run-in with a Christian broadcasting network.

Joan Armatrading

Joan ArmatradingSongwriter Interviews

The revered singer-songwriter talks inspiration and explains why she put a mahout in "Drop the Pilot."