"Working on the railroad isn't just the conceptual basis for a classic country song," says William Dubrowski of BLE Division 126, Bakersfield. "It's grueling work that demands rock-hard abs and rivers of elbow grease. We've always had an understanding with the music industry that train-based material reflect that harsh reality, and the results have been appropriately tough -- Ozzy Osbourne's 'Crazy Train,' Jethro Tull's 'Locomotive Breath,' 'Nightrain' by Guns N' Roses. Now this."
The controversy took an ugly turn last weekend when a motley crew of engineers blared Grand Funk Railroad outside a Bay Area Target store where Train's latest, For Me, It's You, was on sale.
"Used to be that Americans respected the tradition of the railroad," says Carlos Banali, whose great-grandfather Tico worked for Union Pacific during the completion of the Oakland pass in 1870. "And the music was balls-out rockin'. But then these Train guys come along with this 'Calling All Angels' crap and throw us all for a loop. It's like you were expecting a Vin Diesel flick, but you got Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants instead."
At the heart of the debate is the band's newest single, "Cab," and its ultrasensitive refrain: "The days are better, the nights are still so lonely/ Sometimes I think I'm the only cab on the road."
"That song isn't even about trains, it's about cabs, and everybody knows that cabs are for pussies," says Banali. "I realize that men are encouraged to show their feminine sides these days, but Train's soothing blend of adult pop and blue-eyed soul doesn't have any place in the locomotive world."