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Rob Balder A Song About a Train This song contains language that may be objectionable to some listeners and may not be suitable for radio broadcast.

There's something about the folk music tradition that makes a man want to write a song about his childhood, and how different things are today.

When I was a boy, I heard a lot of men singing about trains. About how they grew up with trains, but now the trains were all gone.

I can't write a song about that. Because, when I was a boy, the trains were all gone.

What we had was a television set.

And for years and years, during at least one show every night, the television set would show us a man putting A-1 Steak Sauce on his hamburger.

Now his friends and his family were shocked and outraged at this. But the man spoke up, and he asked them a simple question. He said, "What is a hamburger? Chopped ham?" They laughed nervously, but he had a point to make, and he pressed on.

"It's chopped steak," he said, gently smiling. "And what's better on steak than A-1?"

Well, by the end of the commercial, his quiet wisdom had won them over, and they were all putting A-1 Steak Sauce on their hamburgers.

The problem with this is that, away from the television, I rarely saw anyone putting A-1 Steak Sauce on their hamburger. Almost no-one did it twice. I did it once. It tasted like burnt shoes, and I went back to using ketchup.

At some point, later in life, I thought to myself, "Those guys wasted millions of dollars trying to get America to put A-1 on their hamburgers instead of ketchup. But nobody does. What a fail."

But then it occurred to me: that wasn't really the point, was it? I realized that, without ever questioning it, I had somehow grown up believing that there isn't anything better on steak than A-1. And that's not true. They never made that claim, but they were lying in how they framed the question.

With enough repetition, they put a constant in my head in place a variable, an absolute where there should have been a free and informed choice.

So I guess what I miss about my childhood is how when the commercials were over, that kind of thing stopped. Walter Cronkite would come on and tell us the President's men had broken the law, and show us the caskets coming home from a war we'd run out of good reasons for fighting.

Some mighty wheels are spinnin'
Along the southbound track.
One train is comin' back now.
Every patriot must act
And get on board the endless corporate thinktank
Infotainment hearts and minds campaign.

The engine makes loud and frightening noises.
The best way to drown individual voices,
Make us all fight over engineered choices,
Point our fingers,
Misassign the blame.

Everybody ride the train.

The TV screens will prevent any stray thoughts
Conductors provide complimentary steak sauce
For your brain.
On the Bullshit Train.

Everybody's ridin' the Bullshit Train.
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