A Musing On Liner Notes: An Imaginary History of Train

04/25/2012: Edited for a new Train hit, “Drive By.”
08/09/2018:  Quite a few new hits to update for Train.

One of the sort of “dream jobs” I would have would be to research and write the liner notes for the greatest hits album of some of the bands I really love.  I always feel a little bit jealous of the lucky people who get to engage in such tasks, as it is an immensely pleasurable task to commemorate the history of an important and beloved group of musicians, to be able to share in the joy of writing a primary document in musical history, something that might potentially reach a great audience and give them not only something instructive, but also something that would give them a sense of the sort of people were in the band and their feelings about their own creations.

In order to give this sort of dream a bit of flesh, let us assume there was such an opportunity.  For example, I am a big fan of the band Train, a pop-rock outfit out of San Francisco, California with a great live show (I’ve happened to see it, when they were on their tour in support of the album For Me, It’s You, supported by the fantastic Christian rock band Needtobreathe some time ago).  Let us assume that I had the chance to write the liner notes for a greatest hits album of theirs (they’ve earned one–and I imagine given their hits and sales that one is only a matter of time).

First off, the track listing would be important.  If one takes only their current hits, an excellent greatest hits album could be made with the following tracks (let’s put them in some kind of nice historical order from their earliest hits to their most recent ones):

  1. Meet Virginia (from “Train”)
  2. Free (from “Train”)
  3. I Am (from “Train”)
  4. Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me) (from “Drops of Jupiter”)
  5. Something More (from “Drops of Jupiter”)
  6. She’s On Fire (from “Drops of Jupiter”)
  7. Calling All Angels (from “My Private Nation”)
  8. Get To Me (from “My Private Nation”)
  9. When I Look To The Sky (from “My Private Nation”)
  10. Ordinary (from the Original Soundtrack to “Spiderman 2” and “Alive At Last”)
  11. Cab (from “For Me, It’s You”)
  12. Give Myself To You (from “For Me, It’s You”)
  13. Hey, Soul Sister (from “Save Me, San Francisco”)
  14. If It’s Love (from “Save Me, San Francisco”)
  15. Marry Me (from “Save Me, San Francisco”)
  16. Save Me, San Francisco (from “Save Me, San Francisco”)
  17. Drive By (from “California 37”)
  18. 50 Ways To Say Goodbye (from “California 37”)
  19. Bruises (from “California 37”)
  20. Mermaid (from California 37″)
  21. Angel In Blue Jeans (from “Bulletproof Picasso”)
  22. Cadillac, Cadillac (from “Bulletproof Picasso”)
  23. Bulletproof Picasso (from “Bulletproof Picasso”)
  24. Give It All (from “Bulletproof Picasso”)
  25. Play That Song (from “A Girl, A Bottle, A Boat”)
  26. Drink Up (from “A Girl, A Bottle, A Boat”)
  27. Call Me Sir (non-album single, so far)

There’s maybe enough room after this for maybe one of the better album tracks (perhaps “My Private Nation” or “I’m About To Come Alive” from My Private Nation, or “Hopeless” from “Drops of Jupiter), or a new song to round out the collection and make it of value to existing Train fans, or perhaps a studio version of “Dream On,” the song that traditionally ends their encores.  Either way, it would be an awesome hits collection to a worthy band, one of the best American bands of the 2000’s.

So, after the tracklist was sorted out, then it would be time for the work of liner notes to begin.  I would be able to give a personal account of their live tours, for example.  Additionally, it would not be a difficult matter to look up their chart success on Billboard (which I would think a bit of information that would add a sense of the popularity of the band as a whole, which has spent at least 20 weeks at #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart with “Hey, Soul Sister,” their biggest hit to date).  Just how popular of a band they are can be revealed by some information provided from Billboard.com:

9 of their hits, as well as a Christmas song, have hit the Hot 100 chart:  Hey, Soul Sister (#3), Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me) (#5), Drive By (#13), Meet Virginia (#15), Calling All Angels (#19), Marry Me (#34), If It’s Love (#34), When I Look To The Sky (#74), and Save Me, San Francisco (#75).  The following songs have hit the Rock Songs chart:  Hey, Soul Sister (#33), Drive By (#40), and If It’s Love (#44).  The following song has hit the Country Songs chart (!):  Hey Soul Sister (#52).  The following songs have hit the pop songs chart:  Hey, Soul Sister (#3), Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me) (#4), Meet Virginia (#10), Drive By (#17), If It’s Love (#19), Calling All Angels (#24), Marry Me (#27).  The following songs have hit the radio songs chart:  Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me) (#2), Hey, Soul Sister (#5), Meet Virginia (#17), Drive By (#17), Calling All Angels (#19), Marry Me (#37), Save Me, San Francisco (#74), When I Look To The Sky (#75).  The following songs of theirs have hit the Adult Contemporary Chart:  Calling All Angels (#1), Hey, Soul Sister (#1), Marry Me (#3), Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me) (#8), If It’s Love (#15), Drive By (#17), Cab (#19), and When I Look To The Sky (#24).  The following songs have hit the Adult Pop Songs (their most popular chart in terms of numbers of songs):  If It’s Love (#1), Calling All Angels (#1), Hey, Soul Sister (#1), Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me) (#1), Meet Virginia (#2), Drive By (#2), Marry Me (#4), Get To Me (#6), Save Me, San Francisco (#6), When I Look To The Sky (#9), Cab (#9), Ordinary (#12), Something More (#20), She’s On Fire (#21), I Am (#35). They have even managed to have two hits on the alternative chart: Drops Of Jupiter (Tell Me) (#11), and Meet Virginia (#25). If they can keep this up for another couple of albums or so, they might be nearing the level of sustained success necessary for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

So, Train, despite being a somewhat anonymous band for many people, has been a very successful one, with 6 hit albums (including 3 in the top ten and two that have remained on the Top 200 album chat for more than a year), in a career that has lasted, so far, for more than 10 years.  A greatest hits album for a band like this would be well-deserved, and full of some great songs with lasting catalog value (some of the hits are likely to be played for many years on adult contemporary stations).  So, now that the track list and their hit status has been discussed, let us examine what else would go into a decent Train liner notes.

For one, there would be pictures–pictures of their video shoots, album covers (along with a page showing all of their albums to date and when they were released, maybe even with a track listing), along with photos of them on tour and on the tour bus.  Along with personal reminisces of their music and their live show, it would be nice to interview Pat Monahan and the boys, examining their start in California after Pat’s Led Zeppelin cover band broke up, and how they opened for bands like Barenaked Ladies and the Counting Crows while saving up the money to record their first album, which originally attracted little attention from labels [1].  This is an exciting history, worth exploring a bit, and certainly quirky.  The band drama following the “For Me, It’s You” sessions that led to the exit of two band members and a solo album for Pat Monahan (featuring a couple of adult radio hits as well) are also worthy of interest, given the band’s return to form (and popular success) with “Save Me, San Francisco.”

So, a good set of liner notes would include some personal memories, some photos, some history, some information on their career and body of work, as well as their chart success, as well as an opportunity for them to thank God, their influences, their friends and family, and their loyal fans.  That’s what greatest hits albums are all about, after all, as well as imaginary histories of worthy rock & roll bands.

[1] http://www.billboard.com/charts#/artist/train/bio/110800

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to A Musing On Liner Notes: An Imaginary History of Train

  1. Clint says:

    When I worked in radio, I interviewed a number of bands on-air. The two members of Train I spoke to (in 2000) were probably the nicest, most down to earth artists I ever interviewed.

    • Awesome–when I worked in radio (that’s a funny story all of its own) as a college student, I didn’t get to interview any famous stars, but it’s cool that you got to talk to a couple members of Train yourself.

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