In March 2016 singers Billy Bragg & Joe Henry, guitars in hand, boarded a Los Angeles-bound train at Chicago’s Union Station with the hope of reconnecting with the culture of American railroad travel and the songs it inspired. Winding along 2,728 miles of track, the pair recorded songs while the train paused to pick up passengers.
In waiting rooms and at the track side in St Louis, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Alpine TX, El Paso and Tucson they hurriedly set up their recording equipment, performing classic railroad songs while keeping one eye on the train, bounding back aboard just before pulling out for the next town. After four days crossing the country, they pulled into Los Angeles at 4:30am, recording their final song in Union Station at dawn, just as the first birds began to sing.
The resulting album Shine A Light: Field Recordings From The Great American Railroad takes listeners along on that journey and will be released September 23 on Cooking Vinyl Records.