-- Night Train --
6 February 1996. Halton Hills.

Found on:

The Charity Of Night (1996)

Anything Anytime Anywhere, Singles 1979-2002 (2002) [compilation album]

Greatest Hits (1970-2020) (2021) [compilation album]

Not a knife throw from here you can hear the night train passing
That's the sound somebody makes when they're getting away
Leaving next week's hanging jury far behind them
Prisoner only of the choices they've made

Night train

Ice cube in a dark drink shines like starlight
The moon is floating somewhere out at sea
I'm an island in the blur of noise and color
Alcatraz, St. Helena, Patmos and the Chateau D'If

Night train

And everyone's an island edged with sand
A temporary refuge where somebody else can stand
Till the sea that binds us like the forced tide of a blood oath
Will wear it down - dissolve it - recombine it

Anyone can die here they do it every day
It doesn't take much effort tho it goes against the grain
And the ultimate forgetfulness of violence
Sweeps the landscape like a headlight of a train

Night train

Ice cube in a dark drink shines like star light
Starlight shines like glass shards in dark hair
And the mind's eye tumbles out along the steel track
Fixing every shadow with its stare

Night train
Night train

And in the absence of a vision there are nightmares
And in the absence of compassion there is cancer
Whose banner waves over palaces and mean streets
And the rhythm of the night train is a mantra

Bruce Cockburn: Acoustic and Electric Guitar and Vocal
Gary Craig: Drums, Percussion
Rob Wasserman: Bass
Jonatha Brooke and Patty Larkin: Vocals

Known comments by Bruce Cockburn about this song, by date:

  • 4 June 2003 - See interview by Tom Morton on the writing of Night Train being an outcome of the use of Absinthe.

  • 2021

    "An absinthe-fueled manifesto of how things looked through that long night..."

    ~ from the liner notes of Greatest Hits (1970-2020)

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    This page is part of The Cockburn Project, a unique website that exists to document the work of Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Bruce Cockburn. The Project archives self-commentary by Cockburn on his songs and music, and supplements this core part of the website with news, tour dates, and other current information.