Spanish Train

There's a Spanish train that runs between
Guadalquivir and old Saville,
And at dead of night the whistle blows,
and people hear she's running still...

And then they hush their children back to sleep,
Lock the doors, upstairs they creep,
For it is said that the souls of the dead
Fill that train ten thousand deep!!

Well a railwayman lay dying with his people by his side,
His family were crying, knelt in prayer before he died,
But above his bed just a-waiting for the dead,
Was the Devil with a twinkle in his eye,
"Well God's not around and look what I've found,
this one's mine!!"

Just then the Lord himself appeared
in a blinding flash of light,
And shouted at the Devil,
"Get thee hence to endless night!!"
But the Devil just grinned and
said "I may have sinned,
But there's no need to push me around,
I got here first so you can do your worst,
He's going underground!!"

"But I think I'll give you one more chance"
said the Devil with a smile,
"So throw away that stupid lance,
It's really not your style",
"Joker is the name, Poker is the game,
we'll play right here on this bed,
And then we'll bet for the biggest stakes yet,
the souls of the dead!!"

And I said "Look out, Lord, He's going to win,
The sun is down and the night is riding in,
That train is dead on time, many souls are on the line,
Oh Lord, He's going to win!.."

Well the railwayman he cut the cards
And he dealt them each a hand of five,
And for the Lord he was praying hard
Or that train he'd have to drive...
Well the Devil he had three aces and a king,
And the Lord, he was running for a straight,
He had the queen and the knave
and nine and ten of spades,
All he needed was the eight...

And then the Lord he called for one more card,
But he drew the diamond eight,
And the Devil said to the son of God,
"I believe you've got it straight,
So deal me one for the time has come
To see who'll be the king of this place,
But as he spoke, from beneath his cloak,
He slipped another ace...

Ten thousand souls was the opening bid,
And it soon went up to fifty-nine,
But the Lord didn't see what the Devil did,
And he said "that suits me fine",
"I'll raise you high to a hundred and five,
And forever put an end to your sins",
But the Devil let out a mighty shout, "My hand wins!!"

And I said "Lord, oh Lord, you let him win,
The sun is down and the night is riding in,
That train is dead on time, many souls are on the line,
Oh Lord, don't let him win..."

Well that Spanish train still runs between,
Guadalquivir and old Saville,
And at dead of night the whistle blows,
And people fear she's running still...
And far away in some recess
The Lord and the Devil are now playing chess,
The Devil still cheats and wins more souls,
And as for the Lord, well, he's just doing his best...

And I said "Lord, oh Lord, you've got to win,
The sun is down and the night is riding in,
That train is still on time, oh my soul is on the line,
Oh Lord, you've got to win..."
"A lot of people have written in to ask me about this one. It took shape when I was on holiday in Spain in 1974, when we took a break from recording my very first album. I got hold of my guitar and took a train into Seville; at the time I spoke fairly good Spanish so I thought I'd go there. So, I was on the train, going very slowly, and I remember looking out of a window and up at a hillside. I was struck by the way the Spanish made divisions between fields; they'd get two or three pieces of wood, put them together, stand them up - and make a sort of rudimentary fence. These bits of wood were very gnarled, twisted and dried. I recall peering out of the window, seeing a line of these things going up the hill as the train doodled on by, and thinking 'God!, they look like dancing skeletons! This was my imagination at work, you see. Then a few minutes later we crossed a bridge over the Guadalquivir River, and I just scribbled on my piece of paper 'There's a Spanish train that runs between Guadalquivir and old Seville' - I had to put 'old Seville' to get the proper rhyming. And then I had this vision of a train thundering through the night with a driver - a skeleton. You could see his bones being lit by the fire at the front of the engine as he sort of leered out of the cabin. That's what it started with; I got the first line and wrote the song on the train. The rest of the song is pure imagination - I confess! I made it all up as I went along. I thought about the game of cards, and about God and the devil gambling for the souls of the dead. It just developed from that beginning - but that's the way I do it; I start off with a simple idea and expand it into the way my imagination tends to run..."
The Getaway Gazette, January 1986


"Spanish Train" appears on the following albums:

Spanish Train & Other StoriesLive In South AfricaBest MovesThe Very Best of Chris de BurghSpark To A FlameHigh On Emotion Live From DublinThe Lady In Red (The Very Best Of Chris De Burgh)The River SessionsGold