Fandango's One Word Challenge (FOWC) · music · Uncategorized

Driver 8 (1985)

R.E.M._-_Driver_8

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Fandango’s One-Word Challenge today is driver .

R.E.M.’s song, “Driver 8”, came to mind. Maybe because of last night’s prompt at dverse where a repetitive form was called for. Usually I don’t like repetitive songs, but it works so well in, “Driver 8”. Maybe it is used as a reflection of the often-monotonous riding the rails life of a railroad man? My stepfather worked for C&O Railroad for many years. It later became the Chessie system. Things changed. By the time he retired, the rail switches were all controlled by a central location in FL, which may or may not be what it’s like today.

This may be the second greatest railroad song ever written.+

Notes at wikipedia: “Driver 8” is the second single from R.E.M.‘s third album, Fables of the Reconstruction. Released in September 1985, the song peaked at number 22 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. It was not released in Europe.

The song refers to the Southern Crescent, a passenger train operated by the Southern Railroad until 1979, and continues today (with fewer stops) as the Amtrak Crescent. The music video shows Chessie System trains running around Clifton Forge, Virginia.

Guitarist Peter Buck admitted in the liner notes for the band’s 2003 compilation album In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 that the verse chords for the song “Imitation of Life” were unintentionally taken from the verse chords of “Driver 8.”

In a Rolling Stone interview in 2009, Stipe said about his vocals: “It’s like breathing – I don’t think about it when I sing it. I was listening to these live tapes and thought it was a beautiful song with incredible imagery. I listen to our old albums and think, ‘OK, this is where that went wrong, this is a way to improve that.’ And ‘Wow, that’s really good. You’re not the hoax you think you are.’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuFId1RYSZE

The walls are built up stone by stone
The fields divided one-by-one
And the train conductor says
“Take a break, Driver 8, Driver 8, take a break
We’ve been on this shift too long”

And the train conductor says
“Take a break, Driver 8, Driver 8, take a break
We can reach our destination but we’re still a ways away”

I saw a treehouse on the outskirts of the farm
The power lines have floaters so the airplanes won’t get snagged
Bells are ringing through the town again
The children look up, all they hear is sky-blue, bells ringing

And the train conductor says
“Take a break, Driver 8, Driver 8, take a break
We can reach our destination, but we’re still a ways away”

But it’s still a ways away
But we’re still a ways away
But it’s still a ways away

Way to shield the hated heat
Way to put myself to sleep
Way to shield the hated heat
Way to put myself, my children to sleep

He piloted this song in a plane like that one
She is selling faith on the Go Tell crusade
Locomotive 8, Southern Crescent, hear the bells ring again
Field to weed is lookin’ thin

And the train conductor says
“Take a break, Driver 8, Driver 8, take a break
We’ve been on this shift too long”
And the train conductor says
“Take a break, Driver 8, Driver 8, take a break
We can reach our destination, but we’re still a ways away”

But it’s still a ways away
But we’re still a ways away
But it’s still a ways away

“Driver 8” as written by Peter Buck Bill Berry

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

+First place goes to Arlo Guthrie’s, “City of New Orleans”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvMS_ykiLiQ

8 thoughts on “Driver 8 (1985)

    1. The only thing we had from the railroad in our home was him, and because it was the railroad he was gone a minimum of 2 days and up to 4 days on his runs. Yes, Driver 8 is one of my favorite REM songs. Maybe the way it switches up the melody (not sure technical terms) and seems rather melancholy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He had lights, crossing signs..everything. That would hard being away that long. My wife’s dad was a truck driver and he lived that type of life.

        That song flows really well…even through the transitions….I agree with your listing but I know what train song I would put at 3….
        Casey Jones – Grateful Dead

        Liked by 1 person

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