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The ninth song on Counting Crows' album August and Everything After, released in 1993. It is also the eighth song on the VH1 Storytellers CD in the live two-CD set Across A Wire. The lyrics and music were written by Adam Duritz. The song opens with a vague rhythmic sound that might be a train approaching, soon overpowered by guitars, bass, and drums. Then in comes Duritz' voice. It has a delicate feel to it, sometimes a little breathy, sometimes whispering.

I took the cannonball down to the ocean
Across the desert from sea to shining sea
I rode a ladder that climbs across the nation
Fifty million feet of earth between the buried and me

"How do you do?"
She said, "Hey, how do you do?"

She buys a ticket 'cause it's cold where she comes from
She climbs aboard because she's scared of getting older in the snow
Love is a ghost train rumbling through the darkness
Hold on to me darling I've got nowhere else to go

"How do you do?"
She said, "Hey, how do you do?"

(instrumental section, piano joins in, lead guitar wails)

I took the cannonball down to the ocean
Watched the diesel disappear beneath the tumbling waves
Love is a ghost train howling on the radio
"Remember everything," she said, "when only memory remains."

"How do you do?"

She said, "Hey, how do you do?"

I remember that when I first heard Counting Crows I thought little about the lyrics except that they were weird. I was probably thirteen at the time, and thinking about this, I realize that by then the song was already years old; in fact, I was only eight when this song was recorded… and I consider Counting Crows to be one of the few contemporary bands I listen to. The lyrics of this song, though, are perhaps the strangest of all Counting Crows lyrics, and they are the ones I specifically remember being bewildered by years ago.

In the 1997 show for VH1 that produced half of Counting Crows Across a Wire album, Adam Duritz explained that the ghost train is a metaphor for one's life; one's life is a train with the cars full of ghosts that simply follow you around. "And when you fall in love with someone, it's as if you both get on the train together with all your respective ghosts," Duritz said. "And the longer you're in it, the more you show each other all of these ghosts. And it's a very hard thing for a lot of people to do, especially myself. And in the song, the character doesn't do it, you know; he gets off the train."

Having been through a relationship now, and not being 13 anymore, I can begin to understand this song. It still seems one of the stranger Counting Crows songs to me, but it begins to make sense as I listen to it, and that is something.

CST Approved

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