Our county (Essex County) zoo, the Turtle Back Zoo, features a family train ride that goes around some of the zoo grounds into the woods, through a tunnel and alongside a reservoir.
Early last spring I got on the train with my daughter and the idea of a song really came on strong, especially as we rode past the reservoir and saw sunshine glimmering on it. This lyric came to mind during the course of the 10-minute ride: “I see the sun sparkle on the water out the window of the train.” The line never left me and it’s in the final version of the song. My imagination took me other places we might go on a train ride – to the city with “I see tall and shiny buildings” or through the country with “I see cows grazing in the pasture.” Because of the city/country connection, I was hearing a cross between a soul and country arrangement in my head, which would later give me an inspired idea for a guest artist.
Completing the Writing
I carried this song idea around with me for a while, but it took a songwriting session with Amy to truly complete the thought. Together we came up with a chorus that could affirm the imagery of the choruses and still move the song forward (like the train).
In the Studio
We enlisted the help of renowned keyboardist John Ginty, who happened to be a high school bandmate of mine and Ross’ to play the vintage Hammond organ. It really adds a sound to the record that is both soulful and rustic at once, like the image of a train itself. John happened to be available between finishing a Canadian tour with the Dixie Chicks and heading out to L.A. to record an album with Steve Earle. John also has an amazing solo record of his own, titled Bad News Travels, which has been getting rave reviews in the blues world.