Train, By Train

Train, By Train

Ava Barnes

Train is a pop-rock band from San Francisco that was formed in 1993. The original members are Pat Monahan, Rob Hotchkiss, Jimmy Stafford, Scott Underwood, and Charlie Colin. The band has had many other members through the years. Their debut album, self-titled Train, was released in 1998. They prefaced the album drop by releasing three singles: “Meet Virginia”, one of Train’s most famous songs, “Free”, and “I Am.” In 1999, the album appeared on the US Billboard 200 and reached number 76. Many of the songs on the album are still popular over 20 years later.

It was not uncommon for me to listen to Train when I was younger. My mom liked their music and the songs were enjoyable to listen to in the car. The sound of Train explores an indie pop-sounding rock genre. The songs are accompanied by a twangy guitar melody, mild drums, and in some cases, such as “I Am”, feature a harmonica. Most of the songs vary from slow in the beginning and often break into a faster pace, especially in the chorus. The twangy guitar sound is prominent and that style of guitar was popular at the time of the album’s release. It can be heard in many different songs and bands from the time. 

Due to the fact that I started listening to Train when I was very young, I was unaware of the meaning behind the lyrics. In “Meet Virginia,” the lyrics follow the story of a girl who is odd, yet alluring, and who “doesn’t own a dress, her hair is always a mess.” The real meaning of the song isn’t about a girl, or any one person specifically. The inspiration minutely came from one of Monahan’s friends who often made up stories about the stuff Monahan did. It’s common for artists to write “love” songs or songs that seem to be written for a love interest when in reality, the girl or love interest isn’t real! In a band, it might be awkward or embarrassing to have your bandmates sing about your feelings. This is seen in a lot of Train songs. 

This album was a great debut! The songs are catchy and easy to listen to. They’re great for long car rides, doing homework, and a bunch of other situations. The love interests they sing about in their songs aren’t real people, so it’s easier for listeners to relate to the songs and fit them into their own lives. If I were eating at a restaurant or shopping at the grocery store, I would be pleased to hear Train playing. If you like this album, Train has grown their discography extensively since the release of their debut in 1998, and are still making music. Their last album release was in 2022. Their music has changed in the last 25 years, which is understandable as the styles of music throughout the industry have changed and the band has cycled through many members. Train’s music is still making it on the US Billboard 100.