Elizabeth Cotten was a folk singer who wrote this song in the early 20th century between 1906 and 1912. It became a huge hit during the folk revival of the 60s and skiffle movement of the 1950s where it was covered by the Beatles in their early career.
For those diving deep into the heart of fingerstyle guitar, Elizabeth Cotten’s “Freight Train” stands as a beacon of unique technique and poignant storytelling. Crafted in her early years when the family moved to Great Britain, the song draws inspiration from the humdrum of a train in her hometown—a simple observation turned into a melodic masterpiece. As you navigate the world of “Cotten Picking,” Cotten’s signature left-handed, upside-down style, you’re embracing a technique that challenges conventional playing methods. This style isn’t just a technique but a testament to Cotten’s distinct approach to music. The journey of “Freight Train” also offers a lesson in perseverance. From its creation in Cotten’s childhood to its international recognition after a copyright battle, the song exemplifies the long, winding paths that music can take before finding its rightful place in the spotlight. So, as you strum and pick the chords of “Freight Train,” remember you’re not just playing notes—you’re telling a story of resilience, talent, and the timeless beauty of folk music. Dive deep, practice hard, and let the song’s legacy guide your fingers and soul.
You can learn to play the chords you need to play Freight Train by Elizabeth Cotten in the Uberchord app. This app features a guitar chord trainer and a strumming trainer. It listens to your guitar chords and gives you visual feedback in real-time in case you make a mistake.
Key of the Song:
The original key of Freight Train by Elizabeth Cotten is in C major.
Guitar Chords for Freight Train by Elizabeth Cotten
Since there’s so many versions of this song it can be hard to give a definitive strumming pattern. So the best advice we can give is to pay attention to the chord changes between C and G7, as well as E7 to F. For E7 to F, you’ll have to be careful with your 2nd finger on your fret hand as it’ll go from the A string to the G string.
Freight Train by Elizabeth Cotten – Lyrics with Chords
C G7 Freight train, freight train, goin' so fast, G C freight train, freight train, goin' so fast E7 F Please don't tell what train I'm on, C G7 C so they won't know where I'm gone. C G7 Freight train, freight train, goin' round the bend, G C freight train, freight train, comin' back again E7 F One of these days turn that train around, C G7 C and go back to my home town. C G7 One more place I'd like to be, G C one more place I'd like to see E7 F To watch them old Blue Ridge Mountains climb, C G7 C when I ride old Number Nine. C G7 When I die Lord, bury me deep, G C down at the end of Chestnut Street E7 F Where I can hear old Number Nine, C G7 C as she comes down the line. C G7 Freight train, freight train, goin' so fast, G C freight train, freight train, goin' so fast E7 F Please don't tell what train I'm on, C G7 C so they won't know where I'm gone.