In 1970, Steve Goodman wrote a song describing a train ride from Chicago to New Orleans which many deem the best train song ever written. In 1972 Steve pitched “City of New Orleans” to Arlo Guthrie, who recorded and released it on his album Hobo’s Lullaby. Twelve years later, Willie Nelson had a number one country single hit with his version, earning Steve Goodman a posthumous Grammy Award for Best Country Song.
The Stray Cats led a rockabilly revival in the early ‘80s, infusing the ’50s genre with a punk sensibility to create a movement that persists today. Following the breakup of the Cats in 1984, bassist Lee Rocker has continued to pursue music, both as backup for musical luminaries like George Harrison, Carl Perkins and Keith Richards, and as a solo artist. For his latest release, The Cover Sessions EP, he recorded six tracks by artists like the Beatles, Elton John and the Allman Brothers.
Rocker’s result, while enjoyable, doesn’t break much ground. He gives the opening track, The Beatles “Come Together,” the biggest makeover. Stripping the song of its trademark bass riff, he powers it instead with harmonica and a quick guitar pulse over a steady shuffle beat. Together, it complements John Lennon’s proto-rap verses surprisingly well. He deconstructs the chord progression in the chorus as well, without losing the punch of the original.