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Canadian railroad trilogy   Gordon Lightfoot




Xref: undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca rec.music.makers.guitar.acoustic:6404








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Canadian Railroad Trilogy, by Gordon Lightfoot  (C) 1967, 1969 Warner Brothers.
==============================================
Transcribed by me, Matthew Fifer
View this on an 80 character screen, with a monospaced font, in order to
have everything line up properly.

The Notes:
---------

This is the final, checked-for-errors, intro-included version.

The song is played with the low E-string(s) tuned down to D and a capo on
the 3rd fret.  The song is mostly based in D.  This tuning gives the D
chord an especially huge sound.  Try to avoid playing the low D on most
chords (except the D).  I have put a (X) on the chord charts to remind you
of this.

Buy, borrow, beg, or steal a 12-string to play this on!  This is a *RULE*
for this song!!! :-) 

Lightfoot typically seems to concentrate on the high strings (say the top
four (or 8, if you've got a 12-string) for the jangly, percussive rhythms
and hits bass notes on a main beat.  For the first three verses (and all
the rest just like them), play the D/C# bass chord as a regular D and just
hit that C# once as a bass note, and then the same goes for the B note in
the G chord.  It sounds complicated, but it creates that descending bass
pattern on the A string.  Just play along with the record a couple of
times.  I'm sure you'll get the idea!

Feel that musically-metaphoric train chugging along and marvel at his
brilliance as he manages to combine the rhythm with the meaning of the
song...All aboard!!!

Anyway, follow the recording to get the rhythms.  I finally decided to tab
the intro from the Gord's Gold album, since that is the version most
people seem to be most familiar with.  Tablature's major limitation is the
lack of convenient way to notate rhythm.  The way to count the intro is
"one-two-e-and-a..."
The Chords: (apologies in advance for any incorrect names)
----------
     D                G            D/C# bass           G6
===========      X==========      X==========      X==========
| | | | | |      | | | | | |      | | | | | |      | | | | | |
-----------      -----------      -----------      -----------
| | | 1 | 2      | 2 | | | |      | | | 1 | 2      | | 1 | | |
-----------      -----------      -----------      -----------
| | | | 3 |      | | | | 3 4      | | | | 3 |      | | | | 3 4
-----------      -----------      -----------      -----------
| | | | | |      | | | | | |      | 4 | | | |      | | | | | |
-----------      -----------      -----------      -----------
     A                C               Am7              Em
X==========      X==========      ===========      ===========
| | | | | |      | | | | 1 |      | | | | 1 |      | | | | | |
-----------      -----------      -----------      -----------
| | 1 2 3 |      | | 2 | | |      | | 2 | | |      1 2 3 | | |
-----------      -----------      -----------      -----------
| | | | | |      | 3 | | | |      | | | | | |      | | | | | |
-----------      -----------      -----------      -----------
| | | | | |      | | | | | |      | | | | | |      | | | | | |
-----------      -----------      -----------      -----------
   A7addG             A7               E             A7sus4
X==========      X==========      ===========      ===========
| | | | | |      | | | | | |      | | | 1 | |      | | | | | |
-----------      -----------      -----------      -----------
| | 1 | 2 |      | | 1 | 2 |      2 3 4 | | |      | | 1 | | |
-----------      -----------      -----------      -----------
| | | | | 3      | | | | | |      | | | | | |      | | | | 3 |
-----------      -----------      -----------      -----------
| | | | | |      | | | | | |      | | | | | |      | | | | | |
-----------      -----------      -----------      -----------
   Cmaj7              D7
X==========      ===========      ===========      ===========
| | | | | |      | | | | 1 |      | | | | | |      | | | | | |
-----------      -----------      -----------      -----------
| | 2 | | |      | | | 2 | 3      | | | | | |      | | | | | |
-----------      -----------      -----------      -----------
| 3 | | | |      | | | | | |      | | | | | |      | | | | | |
-----------      -----------      -----------      -----------
| | | | | |      | | | | | |      | | | | | |      | | | | | |
-----------      -----------      -----------      -----------
Intro:
-----
 D                 G                     G/C       G       G6
---2-2-2---2-2-2-----2-----2-----2-2-2-----2-2-2-----2-2-2---2-2-2-------
---3-3-3---3-3-3-----2-----2-----2-2-2-----2-2-2-----2-2-2---2-2-2-------
---2-2-2---2-2-2-----0-----0-----0-0-0-----0-0-0-----0-0-0---0-0-0-------
-----------------------0-2-----------------------------------2-2-2-------
-----------------0-2---------0-2-------0-3-------0-2-------0-------------
-0-------0---------------------------------------------------------------
 G6              D                 
---2-2-2---2-2-2---2-2-2---2-2-2-----------------------------------------
---2-2-2---2-2-2---3-3-3---3-3-3-----------------------------------------
---0-0-0---0-0-0---2-2-2---2-2-2-----------------------------------------
---2-2-2---2-2-2---------------------------------------------------------
-0-------0---------------------------------------------------------------
-----------------0-------0--------"There was..."-------------------------
Verses:
------
D                        G                  D  
There was a time in this fair land when the railroads did not run
         D/C#bass      G                G6
When the wild majestic mountains stood alone against the sun
    D               G             D
And long before the white man and long before the wheel
                    A              C            D    Am7 D Am7 D
When the green dark forest was too silent to be real
D                 G            D              
But time has no beginnings and hist'ry has no bounds
   D/C#bass        G            G6
As to this verdant country they came from all around
     D               G                  D
They sailed upon her waterways and they walked the forests tall
                                      A                 C          D Am7 D Am7 
And built the mines the mills and the factories for the good of us all
D                         G        D
And when the young man's fancy was turning in the spring
    D/C#bass          G               G6
The railroad men grew restless for to hear the hammers ring
      D              G                D
Their minds were overflowing with the visions of the day
                    A                C              D
With many a fortune won and lost and many a debt to pay... For they
A                        Em
Looked in the future and what did they see
            C                          D
They saw an iron road runnin' from the sea to the sea
A                      Em
Bringin the goods to a young growin' land
    C                        D
All up from the seaports and into her hands
      Am7      D     Am7               D
Look away said they across this mighty land
         Am7     D            Am7     D
From the eastern shore to the western strand
A                        Em
Bring in the workers and bring up the rails 
            C                       D
We've gotta lay down the tracks and tear up the trails
A                      Em
Open 'er heart let the lifeblood flow
      C                          D
Gotta get on our way cause we're moving too slow
A                        Em
Bring in the workers and bring up the rails 
            C                       D
We've gotta lay down the tracks and tear up the trails
A                      Em
Open 'er heart let the lifeblood flow
      C                          D
Gotta get on our way cause we're moving too slow
C                          A                     A7addG
Get on our way cause we're movin' too slow...
  D                         G        A7
Behind the blue Rockies the sun is declinin'
    D               G               E            A   A7    
The stars they come stealin' at the close of the day
D                           G              A7         D
Across the wide prairie our loved ones lie sleeping
D               G                A7sus4 D
Beyond the dark oceans in a place far away
D                      G             A7
We are the navvies who work upon the railway 
D           G              E              A   A7    
Swingin our hammers in the bright mornin' sun
D                  G            A7
Livin' on stew and drinking bad whiskey
D           G                  A7sus4        D
Bendin' our old backs till the long days are done
D                      G             A7
We are the navvies who work upon the railway 
D           G              E              A   A7
Swingin our hammers in the bright mornin' sun
D                     G            A7
Layin' down track and buildin' the bridges
D                               A7sus4      D
Bendin' our old backs till the railroad is done...
   A                      Em
So over the mountains and over the plains
C                   D
Into the muskeg and into the rain
A                           Em
Up the St. Lawrence all the way to Gaspe
C                        D
Swingin' our hammers and drawin' our pay
A                  Em
Drivin' 'em in and tyin' 'em down
 C                        D
Away to the bunkhouse and into the town
  A                  Em
A dollar a day and a place for my head
  C                     A                  A7
A drink to the livin' a toast to the dead
       D           Am7                                             D
Oh the song of the future has been sung, all the battles have been won 
         Am7                                             D
O'er the mountain tops we stand, all the world at our command
        Am7            D             Am7                 A
We have opened up this soil with our teardrops...and our toil...  For there
D                  G                  D  
Was a time in this fair land when the railroads did not run
         D/C#bass      G                G6
When the wild majestic mountains stood alone against the sun
    D               G             D
And long before the white man and long before the wheel
                    A              C            D      
When the green dark forest was too silent to be real
                    A              C            D      
When the green dark forest was too silent to be real
                  A             C     Cmaj7          D7      
And many are the dead men...too silent...      to be real
================================================================================

As always, comments or corrections may be e-mailed to me or posted. 
Either way, I'll see 'em and take note.  Enjoy this one -- it's a classic
12-string tune.

-- Matthew


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TakamineEG341C (report)

This is a very nice version. The original was actually in F, but this is so much nicer to play.
Also - to add depth to the sound if you're playing this on a six string, try double drop to D tuning. So, with both E strings tuned to D you need to modify the chords a bit - ie. play the first string open for D and G. This way you simply work your first finger down from the 5th to the 4th to the 3rd strings in the 2nd fret for the G, G6, D progression while your 3rd finger remains on the 2nd string in the 3rd fret. Play with some double fingering to get that "Lightfoot" sound as well - very easy and very nice!