Thursday, January 17, 2008

Song #2 - To Stop The Train

I may as well continue with unlikely songs from England... so I have chosen another song I remember being introduced to Camp Ajawah (unlike most songs, which had been sung long before I came along). Bruce, like Bob a great camp leader for many years and a teacher during the school years, taught us this simple song:

To stop the train in cases of emergency pull down the chain
pull down the chain
penalty for improper use: 5 Pounds

I picture some really bored songwriter riding the tube years ago, distractedly reading one of those informational signs that blend into the background in public spaces, and challenging himself to put the words to music.

A little searching on the internet turns up nothing on the songs history. Anyone?

Here is a version of it with a slightly different tune from Ajawah's version:

Finally, like some of the songs at Ajawah (and more so during the girls sessions), there are physical actions that accompany this song. Waving one's hand to stop the train, pulling down the chain, wagging a finger to warn of the penalty, and ending with a five fingers held out (5 Pounds) and a palm out for money on the last two notes of the song.


Mack said...

In the 1970's in England the penalty had risn to 25 pounds.

Dan O'Brien said...

Ahah! Apparently my ex-wife's childhood choirmaster thought it up on the spot when taking a gaggle of children on the train and trying to keep them in order...
I'll ask her about it if I remember. I was just looking to see if there was a link to the lyrics for a friend

Joe said...

Dan, thanks for the post. Please do post again once you've asked your wife. I'd be curious to see what we can track down as to the origins of this song.

Jean-Francois alias Jef Lust said...

It's a Belgian scout team, coming from Belgium to a Ireland or England Jamboree whom have created that song in train and sang it for first time during the Jamboree's firecamp. It was around year 1979

Joe said...

Thanks, Jean-Francois, that is a very interesting story. Were you one of the scouts on that train?

Amber Salm said...

This is really an interesting story. If it has been made using a video I am sure kids will be more excited to see it.
videos of trains for kids

Anonymous said...

You're all mistaken I'm afraid. The five pound penalty was pre WWII, and the rhyme along with the actions was a way of getting children and the illiterate to remember safety instructions. Many teachers would remember this fondly from their youth and use it as a train\safety song and this transferred to being widely taught in schools. It's probably nearly as old as rail travel itself.

Col. X

Joe said...

Thanks for the insight, Col. X. I am at summer camp now and we were discussing that very song yesterday.

Spencer McFarland said...

My cousins and I sang a version of this as kids!
Here comes the train (here comes the train)
Along the tracks ( along the tracks)
In case of emergency (in case of emergency)
Pull on the string (pull on the string)
Price for misuse five pounds (price for misuse five pounds)
Usually an older kid would sing the first part and the younger ones would echo. Being in Canada we had no idea what the last line meant but we liked it anyways. Haha

Joe said...

Spencer, thanks for sharing your version. It's always interesting to see how songs mutate over time and distance.