The Downbound train was originally released in December 1955 as the B Side of Chuck Berry’s No Money Down.
Driven by a relentless, fast locomotive tempo, the song hurls you onto the scorched carriage of a “train rushed on at a terrible pace” as it fast approaches its hellish destination, driven by none other than the devil himself.
Inspired by Chuck Berry’s staunch religious upbringing, Downbound Train is a song about redemption. Warning against alcohol abuse it tells the story of a man who, after drinking far too much, falls asleep on a bar room floor and enters into a vivid dream about riding a train driven by the devil! When the man wakes up he renounces the demon drink as the lyrics describe how he “fell on his knees on the bar room floor, And prayed a prayer like never before, And the prayers and vows were not in vain, for he never rode that down bound train…”
In his autobiography, Berry wrote this of the song: