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Casey's last ride - meaning?

DigiTrad:
HELP ME MAKE IT THRU THE NIGHT
JAN, CAROL AND WARREN
ME AND BOBBY MCGEE


Related threads:
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Lyr/Chords Req: Casey's Last Ride (Kristofferson) (10)
Help: Me and Bobby McGee (40)
Add: Here Comes that Rainbow Again (Kristofferson) (8)
Lyr Req: Pilgrim (Chapter 33) (Kris Kristofferson) (12)
Lyr Req: Sunday Morning Coming Down (Kristofferson (7)
Lyr Add: To Beat the Devil (Kris Kristofferson) (1)
Kris Kristofferson & 'the lady' (9)
Lyr/Chords Req: Me and Bobby McGee (12)
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(origins) Origin: For the Good Times (Kristofferson) (14)
Kris Kristofferson-waitress give hobo change (2)


Dave the Gnome 26 May 11 - 03:53 PM
GUEST,Tinker from Chicago 26 May 11 - 05:25 PM
Joe Offer 26 May 11 - 05:55 PM
Joe Offer 26 May 11 - 06:04 PM
Arkie 26 May 11 - 07:44 PM
Leadfingers 26 May 11 - 08:45 PM
Arkie 26 May 11 - 08:55 PM
Joe Offer 27 May 11 - 01:04 AM
Dave the Gnome 27 May 11 - 01:34 AM
breezy 27 May 11 - 09:46 AM
pdq 27 May 11 - 09:56 AM
Phil Edwards 27 May 11 - 10:09 AM
Dave the Gnome 27 May 11 - 12:46 PM
G-Force 27 May 11 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,BigDaddy 27 May 11 - 01:18 PM
GUEST,Songbob 27 May 11 - 01:35 PM
McGrath of Harlow 27 May 11 - 01:40 PM
GUEST,BigDaddy 27 May 11 - 01:43 PM
GUEST,Songbob 27 May 11 - 01:58 PM
GUEST,BigDaddy 27 May 11 - 02:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 27 May 11 - 02:25 PM
GUEST,Grishka 27 May 11 - 03:02 PM
GUEST,BigDaddy 27 May 11 - 03:03 PM
Dave the Gnome 27 May 11 - 03:07 PM
McGrath of Harlow 27 May 11 - 03:43 PM
Joe Offer 27 May 11 - 06:04 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 27 May 11 - 08:38 PM
Dave the Gnome 28 May 11 - 04:38 AM
GUEST 28 May 11 - 07:25 AM
blinddrunkal 28 May 11 - 08:12 AM
GUEST,Grishka 28 May 11 - 09:09 AM
Susanne (skw) 28 May 11 - 07:32 PM
Arkie 28 May 11 - 11:06 PM
McGrath of Harlow 29 May 11 - 10:22 AM
MGM·Lion 29 May 11 - 11:02 AM
goatfell 29 May 11 - 11:09 AM
Musket 29 May 11 - 12:36 PM
Dave the Gnome 29 May 11 - 03:21 PM
MGM·Lion 29 May 11 - 03:37 PM
GUEST,who8dmous 17 Sep 11 - 09:43 AM
GUEST 19 Nov 11 - 12:22 AM
GUEST,Isis 25 Dec 11 - 11:35 PM
GUEST,Casey himself! 06 Apr 12 - 12:51 AM
GUEST,Elbe55 13 Jun 12 - 02:09 PM
GUEST,Songbob 13 Jun 12 - 04:32 PM
zozimus 14 Jun 12 - 05:40 AM
Kevin Sheils 14 Jun 12 - 10:31 AM
meself 14 Jun 12 - 10:51 AM
Slag 14 Jul 12 - 09:54 PM
GUEST,TAFF 14 Oct 12 - 07:16 PM
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Subject: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 26 May 11 - 03:53 PM

Only recently come across this haunting song on a recent Johnny Silvo album. I believe it was written by Kris Kristofferson and it sens shivers up and down me - but I am not quite sure why! It is certainly an eerie interplay between Casey's morose bits and the womans part but I am not at all sure I undertsnad what it is about.

Does anyone know?

Cheers

DtG

(Who is sure someone will make it up if no-one knows...)


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Tinker from Chicago
Date: 26 May 11 - 05:25 PM

I've sung this song for many years because it speaks to me, in volumes. The man is a drudge, someone who hates his job dearly but can't quit, even though it has robbed him of his soul. He hates his home life, too ("who reach for anything they can to keep from going home") and apparently has gone from despair to despondency. So in one last effort to feel worth something, anything, he re-visits an old flame. Speaking of her own life she says "Casey, it's a shame to be alone," but he is so much more alone than she is, while surrounded by co-workers and family. All in all, a sad portrait.


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Subject: ADD: Casey's Last Ride (Kris Kristofferson)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 May 11 - 05:55 PM

For the record, here are the lyrics:

CASEY'S LAST RIDE
(Kris Kristofferson)

Casey joins the hollow sound of silent people walking down
The stairway to the subway in the shadows down below
Following their footsteps through the neon-darkened corridors
Of silent desperation never speaking to a soul

The poison air he's breathing has the dirty smell of dying
Cause it's never seen the sunshine and it's never felt the rain
But Casey minds the arrows and ignores the fatal echoes
Of the clicking of the turnstyle and the rattle of his chain

    Oh, she said, Casey it's been so long since I've seen you
    Here, she said, just a kiss to make a body smile
    See, she said, I put on new stockings just to please you
    Lord, she said, Casey can you only stay a while

Casey leaves the underground and stops inside the Golden Crown
For something wet to wipe away the chill that's on his bones
Seeing his reflection in the lives of all the lonely men
Who reach for anything they can to keep from going home

Standing in the corner Casey drinks his pint of bitter
Never glancing in the mirror at the people passing by
And he stumbles as he's leavin' and he wonders if the reason
Is the beer that's in his belly or the tear that's in his eye

    Oh, she said, I suppose you seldom think about me
    Now, she said, now that you've a family of your own
    Still, she said, it's so blessed good to feel your body
    Lord, she said, Casey it's a shame to be alone

Emmylou Harris sings the following at the end of the song, but Kristofferson does not
    Oh, she said, Casey it's been so long since I've seen you
    Here, she said, just a kiss to make a body smile
    See, she said, I put on new stockings just to please you
    Oh, she said, Casey can you only stay a while

Words and Music by Kris Kristofferson

source: http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/Casey-s-Last-Ride-lyrics-John-Denver/4203B5BBE508CC08482568850008042D

I made a few corrections after listening to the Emmylou Harris and Kris Kristofferson recordings


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 May 11 - 06:04 PM

Tinker, I think you take too dark a view of the song, although I think your perspective is valid. I think all of us have had loves that didn't work out for one reason or another, but we're still plagued by dreams of that lover and how it could have been - even if we've gone on to a happy life with somebody else.

I've sometimes wondered how it would have been if things had worked out with Emmylou and me. Her recording of this song, is one of the sexiest recordings I've ever heard.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Arkie
Date: 26 May 11 - 07:44 PM

I've been intrigued by this song since discovering it in a Kristofferson song book years ago. Emmylou's version is a fine interpretation but I also like versions by Dorothy Hamm and June Tabor. Tabor does a very sultry take on the song. Do not care for the Everly's interpretation and Denver's is a little too sweet. Johnny Cash is about what one would expect from him. Dorothy Hamm's version is my personal favorite.

Dave, thanks for bringing this up.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 26 May 11 - 08:45 PM

Perhaps I just dont care about 'interpreting' songs = I just sing it and enjoy the noise it makes !!


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Arkie
Date: 26 May 11 - 08:55 PM

The thing about songs is that some people like the words, some like the melody, some like the package, some like the message, some like the way a particular singer does the song some don't like all of the above.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 May 11 - 01:04 AM

...and   I   like Emmylou Harris....


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 27 May 11 - 01:34 AM

I don't really want to 'interpret' the song Terry - Just understand it! :-) I think you would enjoy Johnny's version of it and in case I didn't say on the other thread - he sends his regards:-)

I think Tinkers explanation could be pretty close but maybe if I heard Emmylou's version I may see it as lighter - Both versions I have heard are men singing. Maybe a woman would concentrate more on the ex-lovers joy of seeing him?

Thanks all anyway - and not a bit of it made up!

DtG


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: breezy
Date: 27 May 11 - 09:46 AM

I've only heard K K sing it and was intrigued from the outset.
   
At one time I thought he had set it in London with the mention of the Golden Crown as pubs are part of our culture and it was nearby to Victoria Station, yeah I know but I was younger then and didnt think there were pubs anywhere else

Tinker: I concur whole heartedly with your interpretation and as a performer its essential to be able to sing this song with from the soul especially if one can empathize with the scenario .

Leadfingers maybe missing the point.

I did buy an early E Harris album but she wasnt singing the kind of songs I was looking for.

Thanks Joe for posting the words, I had transcribed them into one of my songbooks back in the late 60s and was pleasantly surprised by how accurately I had done it , having become an expert in lifting a stylus on and off the vinyl.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: pdq
Date: 27 May 11 - 09:56 AM

"...I thought he had set it in London with the mention of the Golden Crown..."

Surly this song is set in England, since it mentions The Underground, the British version of our subway. Paul Simon, Roger Miller, Rod McKuen and may other Yanks wrote songs about England after visiting the place. The best songs on the Grateful Dead's "American Beauty" album were written in a London hotel room by Robert Hunter while he was vacationing.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 27 May 11 - 10:09 AM

I believe it was a favourite of Capstick's - it's on Does a Turn. It's the track before "The Scarecrow", so I'm afraid what it means to me is "only a couple of minutes before he does something decent". Courses, horses.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 27 May 11 - 12:46 PM

One bit that still puzzles me even with the explanations above. Why is it Casey's last ride? Is it his last ride as in he knows he is done for in some way? Last as in he isn't going to do it again? I presume the ride is the ride on the underground - or is it? Is he depressed because he knows he is leaving her or becuase he is going home?

All academic realy I suppose - superb song anyway:-)

DtG


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: G-Force
Date: 27 May 11 - 12:50 PM

I love songs like this, which don't spell everything out to the Nth degree but leave you to fill in the gaps.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 27 May 11 - 01:18 PM

I, too, concur with Tinker's assessment. I first heard this on my first Kristofferson LP, circa 1971. After reading Joe's enthusiastic praise for Emmylou's version, I just went to iTunes to give a listen. The woman can do a haunting rendering like few can. Sorry to say, for the first time I have to disagree with Joe. And though I love Emmylou too, I thought it the worst cover I've ever heard her do. Ouch.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Songbob
Date: 27 May 11 - 01:35 PM

Wow! I'd forgotten this song, though it used to haunt me when I heard it years ago. I've never learned it, though I may do so, now that I'm reminded of it.

The words are good, but the melody is what kills. The change from the melody of the verses, where the words are describing Casey's "Last Ride" and the chorus, where the melody goes from despair to a maybe-forlorn hope as the words do the same, now that's songwriting. A lot of modern songwriters can manage striking lyrics, and a few can provide a melody that grabs you, but this one has not one, but two melodies, with lyrics matching so perfectly that you just feel compelled to "feel" it.

I get the same feeling with only a few other songs -- "Rose of Allendale" comes to mind -- where the "lift" in the chorus just hooks me and won't let go. So many modern songs (especially country-music numbers) try for the "hook," but this is an example of a master of the hook.

Well done.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 May 11 - 01:40 PM

I think need a story in your mind while you're singing a song like this. Most songs in fact. It doesn't really matter if it's the same story as the person/people who made it had in mind, or the people listening for that matter.

If I sang this one I'd be thinking in terms of jumping under a train...


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 27 May 11 - 01:43 PM

Thanks, McGrath...I really needed a laugh just now and you delivered it. Cheers!


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Songbob
Date: 27 May 11 - 01:58 PM

Actually, one doesn't "jump under a train." You "fall onto the tracks," so that your family can collect the insurance. Someone with Casey's troubles would almost certainly make sure to do that, maybe stumble a bit and ensure that people knew he looked like he was about to faint or pass out.

Then again, perhaps he was pissed (and not just from the beer in his belly) and doesn't want the bloody missus to get anything from his measly insurance! Probably should have changed the beneficiary to his bit-on-the-side, you know? But it's too late now -- he's lying on the track and the train is almost on him, brakes squealing and the horn blasting. Damn! I think this was a mistake!

Bob


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 27 May 11 - 02:03 PM

Thanks, Songbob...I really have to start hanging out here more often (again). I sometimes forget what a fun bunch of people there are here.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 May 11 - 02:25 PM

Of course it's in England - he drinks pints of bitter doesn't he?   As for Kris Kristofferson, he was over here a lot longer than just as a tourist - he was a student here, went to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 27 May 11 - 03:02 PM

The only enigmatic phrase I see is "the rattle of his chain", the rest seems quite clear to me.

Hates his job, as Tinker thinks? "You have nothing to lose but your chains"? I am not convinced. More probably it's the chains of his family life, and of his unsociable mental constitution.

Or does it just mean the rattle of the escalator chains, which used to be quite a noise? Has "his" slipped in for "the", accidentally or Freudian? The clicking turnstiles certainly are physical objects typical of Underground (subway) stations.

It is not Kristofferson's task to tell us what exactly happens after the last ride and the drinking in the Golden Crown. It suffices to know that Casey's last vague hope has proved an illusion.

For those who have not found out themselves: The title evokes Casey Jones' famous last ride. A loser is contrasted to a hero.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 27 May 11 - 03:03 PM

Many of us Yanks also drink pints of bitter as well. All of our best watering holes offer a number of fine bitters. Oh for a pint of Fuller's ESB on tap right now...


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 27 May 11 - 03:07 PM

Funnily enough, Johnny sings 'the rattle of his change' which, in context, makes sense and is a very clever play on words. Probably not the right words - but should be :-)

DtG


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 May 11 - 03:43 PM

"Hates his job, as Tinker thinks? "You have nothing to lose but your chains"? I am not convinced. More probably it's the chains of his family life, and of his unsociable mental constitution.

Or does it just mean the rattle of the escalator chains, which used to be quite a noise?
"

All three at the same time, I assume, plus whatever other chains the singer or the listener experiences. That's how imagery works in poems and songs.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 May 11 - 06:04 PM

I think Emmylou sings, "drinks his pint of bitters." I ignored the "s" in my transcription above.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 27 May 11 - 08:38 PM

As someone said, the late wonderful Tony Capstick used to do this one.

It was a strange song for him to choose. Definitely an American setting - the choice of the word subway. Tony was a great fan of American songwriters though - he used to talk in glowing terms about Shel Silverstein. But his genius was definitely for trad. English/Irish. I can't remember how many times I requested him to do the Bonny Bunch of Roses - tore my heart out, every time.

Anyway he was attracted to this song with its funereal pace and its tale of urban hopelessness. It was perhaps a hint to us in the audience that despite brilliant witty introductions, and an ability for verbal riposte (Derek Brimstone once told me that Tony and Diz Disley were the quickest onstage wits he had ever encountered) that his life had some very dark corners.

I've often wondered if there is an ambiguity in the title. Is the last ride - the subway ride, or is it ride in a sexual sense? The man no longer desires the woman. She pathetically waits in the new stockings that once used to excite his interest, The loss of desire on his part is just one sympton of the alienation and general shutting off of the world. He can only spectate on his own decline, and his loss of interest in the world once so vital, but now driven deep underground and dying is like the half life that is possible for subterranean creatures.

The crowd flooding underground to make a living and claim a role and career in life, is a metaphor for everything he has driven underground and suppressed in himself - and now it has expunged in him the vitality that made relationships valuable.

A very dark song - not the sort for sunny personalities like me - but godammit - well written!


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 28 May 11 - 04:38 AM

I wondered about that sense of 'ride' too, Alan - When she says "just a kiss to make a body smile." it sounds like a bit of an offer. I had sort of decided against it though, thinking it was just me, but either you are just as daft or we may be on to something :-)

I have decided I am pondering too much on it though - I should just enjoy it. I am going to ponder on another song I first heard on the same album - The Scarlet Tide. Can't find the version I know but this is the original as performed by Alison Krauss for the film 'Cold Mountain' ((whicjh I remember being desperately miserable but I could be wrong)

Maybe I should have called the thread 'songs I don't understand' but it would have gone on too long...

DtG


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST
Date: 28 May 11 - 07:25 AM

Is Casey's last ride the train journey to visit his dying mother who is in a nursing home? Is this the last time he'll see her?
He's depressed with his job, his home life is not great and he feels he be loosing the last link with happy memories.
Read the words again with this idea in mind.
Cheers Bill


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: blinddrunkal
Date: 28 May 11 - 08:12 AM

I think Kris sings "The rattle of the trains" refering to the noise from the underground and not "The rattle of his chains".

http://youtu.be/XG08McpK2jI


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 28 May 11 - 09:09 AM

My last post has somehow vanished (censored?). I argued that "the rattle of the [elevator] chain" seemed to me the best solution by the criterion of consistent symbolism, i.e. all the objects mentioned being physically present and symbolic at the same time.

But it seems that KK and others insist on singing "the rattle of his chain", so the question remains whether there is a physical object called "his chain" - the chain of his pocket watch???

A question for Londoners: is it a common belief (as I was told) that stumbling onto the electric rails can be lethal withot any train involved? If so (true or not), KK might be referring to it.
    We censor very little here, Grishka - often to the chagrin of a number of people who would like us to censor more. There are no deleted messages in this thread, so I'm guessing your message just didn't "take." That sometimes happen when your browser cache is working off a stored page.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 28 May 11 - 07:32 PM

I've only ever heard this song sung by Iain MacKintosh who, sadly, never recorded it. His matter-of-fact style suited the song well, I think. (Incidentally, he sang "the rattle of his change" - see here.)

I imagine that Casey has done what a certain British royal has since made acceptable: carried on with an earlier love after marrying and fathering a child (or possibly the other way round - getting another woman pregnant and marrying her, for whatever reason). He doesn't really love his wife, doesn't really know what he is toiling for, but finds his (ex-)lover's demands equally off-putting. In short, Casey finds the demands of his double life too much and gets lost, in whatever way. It is a haunting song, and certainly one giving a lot of space for speculating and creating your own story.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Arkie
Date: 28 May 11 - 11:06 PM

The rattle of his change, rattle of the trains, rattle of his chain, all could fit. Here in the US the phrase "chained to his/her desk, etc." is common and Casey could feel chained to his routine life.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 May 11 - 10:22 AM

A question for Londoners: is it a common belief (as I was told) that stumbling onto the electric rails can be lethal without any train involved?

It's a common belief alright - and it's a perfectly true belief. Don't risk it. Polish tourist killed by urinating on 750-volt electric railway line
.....................................

Like most Londoners, I think, I'm just as likely to use the expression "subway" as an alternative to "underground" and "tube", Alan.

As for "pint of bitters", that sounds a highly unlikely drink, even if Emmylou might have sung it.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 29 May 11 - 11:02 AM

Don't agree, McGrath. 'Subway', in London, means an underground passage to cross a road ~~ sometimes in connection with two entrances to an Underground, or Tube, station, sometimes independently provided. The term Subway, for the rail system, while not unknown, I do not think is much used by Londoners themselves. "Will you go by bus or tube [or Underground]?" a Londoner would ask; not "bus or subway?"

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: goatfell
Date: 29 May 11 - 11:09 AM

i like the song no matter who's the singer


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Musket
Date: 29 May 11 - 12:36 PM

I've been singing this for years now. First heard it when Tony Capstick used to sing it regularly, and having heard many versions, I still sing it in a similar arrangement to how he did it, possibly for reasons of nostalgia!

When I introduce the song, it is normally after singing Eric Bogle's "Love Song of a Simple Man." Hence I introduce it as "Love Song of a Complicated Man." It is, as has been said above, about playing an away fixture to see if it helps get his life into focus, but he only realises that whilst she is lonely, it is nothing to his loneliness despite everything.

The song does seem, by some of the words, to be set in England. Kristofferson was a Rhodes scholar so I am not surprised he anglicised a song or two.

One of my favourites and if I am playing a set, it normally gets an airing.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 29 May 11 - 03:21 PM

I do not think is much used by Londoners themselves. I agree, but remember that Khris Kristofferson is not a Londoner. He may have lived in England a long time but I would have thought his first word for a train that runs underground would be subway and he wrote the song after all. I think a better indication of it being Anglocised (Is there such a word?) is him going to the Golden Lion for a pint of Bitter. While such things do happen Stateside they are not as common as over here and, as Emmylou's version shows, not everyone in the US knows what a pint of Bitter is!

Mind you, our very own Marie Little had someone drinking a bottle of Wild Turtle instead of Wild Turkey! I suppose it is not so much knowing your language as knowing your booze:-)

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 29 May 11 - 03:37 PM

Indeed DtG ~~ esp as he may well have seen a sign saying "Underground and subway", meaning entrance to the tube stn *++* passage under the street. But I was in fact answering McGrath's suggestion that "subway" is catching on as Londoners' own name for their underground rail system, which I {& you} do not believe to be the case.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,who8dmous
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 09:43 AM

I stumbled on this trying to find the meaning of Casey's Last Ride. Very interesting true story of an engineer called Casey.
http://www.watervalley.net/users/caseyjones/cj~long.htm


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Nov 11 - 12:22 AM

I first heard this song when I was 6 sung by my dad who was a muso... I cried and asked his what it meant. he told me that it was about a man who was promised to marry a girl but when he came up from working underground he married another.. later he goes to see her! Not sure but i've always thought this fitted!


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Isis
Date: 25 Dec 11 - 11:35 PM

I think it is about war and jail
boo hoo


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Casey himself!
Date: 06 Apr 12 - 12:51 AM

I think that the song is about an alcoholic who drinks to escape the regrets he has about leading the inauthentic life he is leading. The chain that rattles is from his family (ball and chain) and his desire for drink (chill that's on his bone - clearly an addict). But, I don't think he is actually meeting some old flame in a bar. Too many indicators point to him standing alone in a bar full of men who are drinking for their own reasons in order to slack their pain. He stands in a corner and doesn't even look up in the bar mirror to see behind him, like a lonely and sad man who is nursing his drink.
The women he meets is the memory of his old flame and real love of his life and I believe she exists solely in his mind and she becomes more verbose and her words sadder as he drinks.
I don't think he commits suicide - he just stumbles on the threshold of the bar as he leaves - an ancient omen of misfortune and misery.
The best version is John Denver's from either his album or the BBC special. Check it out on YouTube and let me know what you think.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Elbe55
Date: 13 Jun 12 - 02:09 PM

Having sung this song myself for aboout 40 years and done some translations of KK:s songs this is how I see it.
Casey's is entering the subway. He passes the turnstile and he hears the sound of chains. Could be his own key or watch chain or if Kris sings "the chain" it could be chains in the subway. There he starts thinking of the woman whom he just had been visiting, maybe an old flame, maybe a hooker he frequently uses. He'd probably go for her if he could but something keeps him from doing that. She's anyhow fond of Casey. Leaving the UG he feels he need a pint. He also need to kill some time as he don't want to go home. He's thinking so much about her, her being alone too, that he don't see others in the bar. When he's leaving he stumbles. Obviously he's in tears and maybe the beer is hitting his brain and he can't figure out which one was making him stumble. This would explain the song but the title is still a mystery to me.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Songbob
Date: 13 Jun 12 - 04:32 PM

Ths song's title is so that we'll still be discussing it 30-40 years after he wrote it! It is what it means and means what it is. What else could it be?

And I always thought it was "underground," not "subway," anyway. But then, my ur-text comes from Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen, so what do I know? Now someone will look up a recording by them and it'll be "subway," so my memory is doing its usual thing, but that is how I "hear" it.

Bob Clayton


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: zozimus
Date: 14 Jun 12 - 05:40 AM

i think the key line in the song is "now that you've a family of your own". He finally takes his last ride to visit someone he picked up in London before going back to wear the ball and chain of family life.
Kris's version is enough for me, he's the man.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 14 Jun 12 - 10:31 AM

I first heard at in a wonderful version on a 45rpm single by Suzie Adams, it was around the New Victory Band time and I think Helen Hockenhull (then Watson) may well be singing harmonies. The other side was a version of Nostrodamus.

Another excuse to go searching through the vinyl.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: meself
Date: 14 Jun 12 - 10:51 AM

And people accuse Leonard Cohen of being depressing ....


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Slag
Date: 14 Jul 12 - 09:54 PM

Kristofferson nailed down a winner with this poetry and the song which accompanies it. It has been one of my all time favorites since I heard the John Denver version so long ago. And YES the Emmylou Harris version and that brings up a point. Could the woman be the focal point of the song?
Couldn't she be Casey's last shot at salvation? All that Casey has sought by following the "Capitalist Dream" or the American Dream, if you will has not resulted in "Life" for Casey. But the unknown woman with a lonely passion in her heart and tears in her voice, she has the answer but knows that it would take them both to realize that "love" is the answer to their need.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,TAFF
Date: 14 Oct 12 - 07:16 PM

I see that Arkie in May 2011 did not care for the Everlys version. Fair enough. There were two, one done in one take in 1968, messing about with it, and one done in 1972 when they had lost it bigtime and were just faffing around looking for something. Sad by then but great in their time. Both versions were never released on any album and I only came upon them when buying the CDs with all the unreleased tracks. I found the song haunting to be honest, never heard it before, but have now listened to the Emmylou version as well. I love her stuff. I am a lifelong fan of The Everlys and to me the first version was one of the best things they ever did. Most of their great work was short and about love and life and all that, apart from Ebony Eyes. They had no idea what they were doing by the end of the 60s they were out of it, fighting all the time and doomed. They just put down a version and left it at that. The second version was practised a lot you could tell but it was naff. In the first one they captured the mood of what Kristofferson was trying to convey. I think it is set in England. The guy has an empty existence although he has a family. He is moving out of the area with his job perhaps, and takes one last ride to see his old flame, mistress, prostitute or whatever and they both independently realise after the last liason that they are alone but should perhaps have made a go of it together. He just has a drink and resigns himself to that fact and goes home. Shrugs his shoulders in short. I don't see any thoughts of suicide. Plenty looking back these days and wondering if life would have been better with another. Not me I might add. But as I get much older I find myself analysing some songs in detail and this is one of them. Sunday Morning Coming Down by Kris is a great one too but done fbetter by other artists. Never liked anything Kris sang apart from Bobby Mc Gee but admire his writing. Hope I have not bored you.


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