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"Mystery Train" is a song written by Junior Parker and Sam Phillips. It was first recorded in Phillip's Memphis Recording Service and Sun Records at 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee in 1953. Raymond Hill and Matt Murphy were in the backing band with Bill Johnson on piano, Pat Hare on guitar, and John Bowers on drums. The band was listed on the label as Little Junior's Blue Flames. "Mystery Train" and "Love My Baby" was released late in 1953 on Sun #192, and from the beginning the sound and feel of "Train" gave Parker his first taste of fame and name recognition.

The following lines can be found in the Carter Family's "Worried Man Blues", their biggest selling record of 1930.

"The train arrived sixteen coaches long,The train arrived sixteen coaches long.The girl I love is on that train and gone."

Parker sings, "Train I ride sixteen coaches long.Train I ride sixteen coaches long.Well, that long black train carries my baby home."[105430]

Elvis Presley's version of "Mystery Train" was first released on August 20, 1955 as the B-side of "I Forgot to Remember to Forget" (Sun 223). Presley's version would be ranked #77 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list in 2003. It was again produced by Sam Phillips at Sun Studios, and featured Presley on vocals and rhythm guitar, Scotty Moore on lead guitar and Bill Black on bass. Moore's guitar break toward the end of the record is an echo of the 1946 "Sixteen Tons" by Merle Travis.

RCA Victor rereleased this recording in December of 1955 (#47-6357) after acquiring it as part of a contract with Presley.This version of the song peaked at # 11 on the national Billboard Country Chart.

Presley's version of the song was also ranked the third most acclaimed song of 1955, by Acclaimed Music.

Although "Mystery Train" is now considered to be an "enduring classic", the flip side of this record "I Forgot to Remember to Forget" reached the Billboard National Country music chart #1 position by February 1956, remained there for 5 weeks, and stayed on the charts for 39 weeks. It was the first recording to make Elvis Presley a national known country music star.

Both Bill Black and Scotty Moore left Elvis in 1957 because they were being paid only $200 per week while Elvis was earning millions. Still, Black, who had success with the Bill Black Combo, once said to a visitor to his house in Memphis, as he pointed to a framed 78rpm Sun Record of "Mystery Train" on the wall, "Now there was a record."


The song has lent its name to several other works:
  • Mystery Train was the name of a TV series that documented Presley's early career while he was at Sun.
  • Mystery Train is a 1989 dark comedy movie written and directed by indie film director Jim Jarmusch.
  • Mystery Train is the title of a book (ISBN 0-452-27836-8) by Greil Marcus on the early history of rock and roll.
  • Mystery Train has been covered by Bruce Springsteen on many occasions, most recently, during his 2006 Seeger Sessions Tour by combining Mystery Train's chorus with Cadillac Ranch from the 1980 River album.
  • Mystery Train is the name of an eclectic radio program hosted by David Wiley on KFAI, Fresh Air Community Radio, in Minneapolismarker, Minnesotamarker.
  • Mystery Train is also the name of another very popular radio program on WJZF radio in Standish Maine USA, hosted by Bob Reichers. World wide broadcasts at
  • Mystery Train is also the name of diverse themed radio programs hosted by engineer Stephen D. Gross on KGGVFM 95.1 in Guerneville California and KOWSFM 107.3 in Occidental California.

Artists who have covered the song


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