Letras Traducidas 59 – “CITY OF NEW ORLEANS”. Steve Goodman.

El “Ciudad de Nueva Orleans” es un tren nocturno que hace la ruta Chicago – New Orleans, amén del título de esta preciosa canción escrita por el cantautor folk Steve Goodman (1948-84), un tipo no demasiado conocido en nuestro país. Al parecer, Goodman la escribió a raíz de un viaje que realizó en dicho tren para ir a visitar a la familia de su esposa.

La canción ha sido adaptada por decenas de artistas,  de Willie Nelson a John Denver pasando por Johny Cash, casi siempre con un tratamiento  country. Quien la popularizó, sin embargo, fue Arlo Guthrie, que decidió incluirla en su repertorio después de que Goodman le abordara guitarra en mano tras un concierto para tocársela.

No conozco mucho la obra de Goodman, la verdad, pero este tema –que pertenece a su elepé de debut, publicado en 1972–  me parece una maravilla, uno de esos himnos cuya lírica nos puede sonar aquí, susceptibles que somos, algo patriotera –Good mornig, America!–, pero cuyas virtudes como canción popular son indiscutibles. Me he decidido a traducirla tras encontrar en el tubo este clip alucinante. Hala, pues, buen fin de semana tengan ustedes.


Riding on the City of New Orleans
Illinois Central Monday morning rail
Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders
Three conductors and twenty-five sacks of mail
All along the southbound odyssey
The train pulls out at Kankakee
Rolls along past houses, farms and fields
Passin’ towns that have no names
Freight yards full of old black men
And the graveyards of the rusted automobiles

Good morning, America, how are you
Don’t you know me, I’m your native son
I’m the train they call The City of New Orleans
I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done

Dealin’ cards with the old men in the club car
Penny a point, ain’t no one keepin’ score
Won’t you pass the paper bag that holds the bottle
Feel the wheels rumblin’ ‘neath the floor
And the sons of pullman porters
And the sons of engineers
Ride their father’s magic carpet made of steam
Mothers with their babes asleep
Are rockin’ to the gentle beat
And the rhythm of the rails is all they dream

Good morning, America, how are you
Don’t you know me, I’m your native son
I’m the train they call The City of New Orleans
I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done

Night time on The City of New Orleans
Changing cars in Memphis, Tennessee
Half way home, and we’ll be there by morning
Through the Mississippi darkness
Rolling down to the sea
And all the towns and people seem
To fade into a bad dream
And the steel rails still ain’t heard the news
The conductor sings his song again
The passengers will please refrain
This train’s got the disappearing railroad blues

Good night, America, how are you
Don’t you know me, I’m your native son
I’m the train they call The City of New Orleans
I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done


A bordo del Ciudad de Nueva Orleans, lunes por la mañana,
surcando la Vía Central de Illinois,
quince vagones y quince jinetes que no han pegado ojo,
tres maquinistas y veinticinco sacas de correos,
en ruta hacia el sur…
El tren abandona Kankakee
dejando atrás las casas, las granjas, los campos,
atravesando pueblos sin nombre,
muelles de carga llenos de negros viejos
y cementerios de automóviles ya oxidados…

Buenos días, América ¿qué tal estás?
¿No me conoces? Soy tu hijo, nacido de ti,
soy el tren que llaman Ciudad de Nueva Orleans,
y cuando el día termine estaré a 500 millas de aquí.

Jugando a las cartas con los viejos en el coche club,
a un céntimo la apuesta nadie se preocupa de llevar el tanteo,
pasa ya la bolsa de papel con la botella,
siente las ruedas golpeteando bajo el suelo…
Y los hijos de los maleteros,
y los hijos de los ingenieros
viajan en las alfombras mágicas de sus padres, hechas de vapor,
y las madres mecen a sus bebés dormidos
en el suave traqueteo,
y el paso rítmico de las vías es lo único con lo que sueñan…

Buenos días, América ¿qué tal estás?
¿No me conoces? Soy tu hijo, nacido de ti,
soy el tren que llaman Ciudad de Nueva Orleans,
y cuando el día termine estaré a 500 millas de aquí.

Es de noche en el Ciudad de Nueva Orleans,
cambio de vagones en Memphis, Tennessee,
estamos a medio camino, llegaremos a casa por la mañana
atravesando la oscuridad de Mississippi,
descendiendo hacia el mar…
Los pueblos y la gente
parecen desvanecerse en el interior de una pesadilla
y los raíles de acero aún no están al tanto de las noticias…
El maquinista vuelve a cantar su canción,
a los pasajeros les gustará el estribillo…
Este tren lleva consigo el  blues de la vía que se pierde…

Buenos días, América ¿qué tal estás?
¿No me conoces? Soy tu hijo, nacido de ti,
soy el tren que llaman Ciudad de Nueva Orleans,
y cuando el día termine estaré a 500 millas de aquí.


13 Responses to “Letras Traducidas 59 – “CITY OF NEW ORLEANS”. Steve Goodman.”
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