Saturday 22 Oct 2016

Taking the Train
Matt Seinberg

For most of us, the "Train" is a mode of transportation to and from work, taking a vacation across the country or having an electric model set up in our basements.

I've taken the Long Island Rail Road into New York City many times for job interviews, Broadway shows and meeting friends to have some fun. I had an electric "Train" set when I was a kid. I never took the "Train" across the country though.

There is another kind of "Train"," a musical group based in San Francisco. Formed in 1994, "Train" released five albums. Its members are lead singer Pat Monahan, guitarist Jimmy Stafford and drummer Scott Underwood.

I first became aware of them on 16 December 2009 when lead singer Pat Monahan appeared on an episode of "CSI: NY," one of my favourite shows. It was only at the end when I saw Pat singing did I connect him, the music and his group into one big piece.

I immediately went to their website and listened to some of their music. I was impressed. I could actually understand the words and, most important, get what they were singing about. Then I find out that my daughter, Michelle, also likes to listen to "Train." Talk about making the generation gap smaller.

When I first heard, "Hey Soul Sister," I overwhelmed by everything about the song. The lyrics, ukulele, vocals and harmonies were amazing. Then I listened to "Drops of Jupiter," "Calling All Angels," and "Meet Virginia." The band hooked me.

A group knows it has made the big time when a large company uses one of its songs in a national campaign. This is what has happened with "Train." Samsung now uses "Hey Soul Sister" as the inspirational music in all their commercials. Pretty cool or at least I think so.

Records by "Train" air on many different radio station formats, including Adult Contemporary, Hot AC, CHR and Rock. There are few groups or artists, today, that can pull that off and not alienate their fans.

I'm not going to analyze the lyrics, or get into biographies of the group members. That's the purpose of their website. To me, music touches all of us in different ways and certain songs can elicit feelings that nothing else can.

One song that always makes me feel better when I'm a little down is "Castle Of Dreams," by David Koz. I find it very uplifting and I feel like I'm soaring along the wind when it plays, no matter where I am.

"Hey Soul Sister" for some reason makes me feel good as well. We each can interpret a song in different ways. To me, it's a funny love story about two people wanting to get together. The music video takes place on a street corner in front of a corner restaurant where the man and woman finally meet up.

For music fans, there are two other themes, mentioned in the lyrics, which deserve noting. The chorus mentions the 1980s group, "Mr. Mister," as being on the radio. "Mr. Mister" had a few hits in "Kyrie" and "Broken Wings." Madonna appears in the same sentence as a virgin. That's an oxymoron if I ever heard one.

There are songs we hear, mostly on the radio that we will either crank up because we really like them, or turn off because we are tired of them. Other songs we just tolerate simply because they are just in the background. It's only when they become intrusive that we change the station, put on a CD or turn on our music player.

Then there are the songs that remind us of things that happened to us in different stages of our lives, be it school, an old girlfriend or boyfriend, or a significant event. They can sometimes stop us dead in our tracks no matter what we are doing and make us think back to that event, be it good or bad, sad or happy, or life and death.

For me, such songs include James Taylor "Fire and Rain"; "Magnet and Steel," by Walter Eagan; "Tell Me," by "Boston"; "Melissa," by "The Allman Brothers Band and "Michelle," by "the Beatles." Each, of these songs, is from a different stage of my life that can take my mind back to somewhere else. This happens to all of us and, I hope, reminds us of some good times.

Right now, I like to listen to "Hey Soul Sister." I have it loaded on the memory card in my phone so I can listen to it anywhere and anytime. It makes me feel better and puts a smile on my face.

So, get with "Train" today and take a ride. Have a nice trip. No matter how near or far you go, you won't regret it. So have fun.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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