Runaway Train


Written by John Stewart


This Train may be Bound for Glory, but it was as elusive as the famed butterfly, too – or, more bluntly put, it tried to run away.  It is not toooo difficult to hear what happens, it is more difficult to put to paper (digitally, okay) something that is understandable and playable for most of us.  So what you will see here is a version that is mainly derived from “Punch the Big Guy”, but elements from the live versions have sneaked into it.  See, these nice little high notes runs are played by a second guitar on the studio take, John quite brilliantly manages to combine rhythm playing with the lead runs on the live versions. 

We had all in all five different intros from different versions, all to be displayed (three below the song), and Charlie has done a full verse with those distinctive single

(mostly bass) notes.  I´ll give you that, too.  There´s one verse where we have tried to give you an idea how to add the lead runs to the rhythm playing in this song.

So what you are about to see (and study diligently) is a compromise composite version we “worked” on pretty hard.  Why did we?  Because, once again, this is a song “worthy of the sweat of noble persons”, as the German saying goes.  In other words: Train qualifies as a great song.  (and Art and Charlie as nobility).



Capo 4th fret




    C         F         C           G








(Dum- deedee doo, dum- deedee doo,

  dum- deedee doo, dum- deedee doo)


This intro is played 4 x. Please muffle the strings, ladies and gentlemen.

Adding a G-note (empty G-string)

as every second note will let you have a fuller sound.

Fourth time around, the (G) is on “worried” in the first line.


Or simply play the chords, use mainly “low” strings:


(C) (F) (C) (G) (C) (F) (C) (G) (C) (F) (C) (G) (C) (F) (C)

I'm (G)worried a(C)bout you,(Em7/B) (F)

And I'm (G)worried about (C)me.(Em7/B) (F)

The (G)curves around (C)midnight(Em7/B) (Am7)

Aren't (C/G)easy to (D)see.(high notes run: f# pull off to e-d, to…

(G), highlight b-note) The flashing red (C)warning,(Em7/B) (F)

Un(C)seen in the (Em)rain.(c pull off to b-a-g-a, to..)(F)

This (G)thing has turned ((C5),g-f pull off to e) into

((F), play g-a on G-string)

A ((G7),f pull off to e) runa(d-note on B-string)way (C)train.

(F) (C) (G) (C) (F) (C)


In the (G)long distance (C)phone calls,(Em7/B) (F)

There's a (G)voice on the (C)line.(Em7/B) (F)

E(G)lectrical (C)miles (Em7/B) (Am7)

That (C/G) soften the (D)time. (high notes…)

(G) And dynamite, (C)too,(Em7/B) (Am7)

Is (C ) hooked on the (Em)wire.

(G) So are the (C)rails(G) (F)

Of A(G7)merican (C)flyers.(F) (C) (G)

(C)Mm, (F)mm, (C)mm, (G)mm mm mm (C)mm.(F) (C)


The (G)blind boys and (C)gamblers,(Em7/B) (F)

They in(G)vented the (C)blues.(Em7/B) (F)

We'll (G)pay up in (C)blood (Em7/B) (Am7)

When this (C/G)marker comes (D)due.(high notes…)

(G) To try and get (C)off (Em7/B)now,(Am7)

It´s a(C)bout as in(Em)sane

As (G)those who wave (C)lan(G)terns(F)

At (G)runaway (C)trains.(F) (C)

This(G) thing has turned (C)in(G)to (F)

A (G7)runaway (C)train.(F) (C) (G) (C) (F) (C) (hold)


Oh, (Bb)steel rails and (Am7)heartlines,

(F) They are (G)always in (C)twos,

And I have (Bb)been here be(Fj7)fore, yeah,(D)

And (D7)now it's with (G)you. (G7)  (G6)


And I'm (G5)worried a(C)bout (Em7/B)you,(F)

And I'm (G)worried about (C)me.(Em7/B) (F)

We're (G)lighting the (C)fuses(Em7/B) (Am7)

And (C/G)counting to (D)three.(high notes…)

(G) What are the (C)choices(Em7/B) (Am7)

For (C)those who re(Em)main?

The (G)sign of the (C)cross(G) (F)

Or a (G)runaway (C)train?(F) (C)

This (G)thing has turned (C)into(G) (F)

A (G7)runaway (C)train.(F) (C) (G) (C) (F) (C)

And our(G)love has turned (C)in(G)to (F)

A (G7)runaway (C)train.(F) (C) (G) (C) (F) (C)


Oh, a (G7)runaway (C)train,(F) (C) (G) (C) (F) (C)

Yeah, a (G7)runaway (C)train.(F) (C) (G) (C) (F) (C)

Oh, a (G7)runaway (C)train,(F) (C) (G) (C) (F) (C)

Yeah, a (G7)runaway (C)train.


© John Stewart, All Rights Reserved, Art Faller & Charlie Woodward



Two variations for the intro:


Runaway Train     John Stewart


Capo 4th

(Use heel of hand to muffle strings)


Form (C) chord, play





(repeat and use for first two lines of verse.)


(Possible alternative-use heel of hand to muffle strings)

    (C)         (F)         (C)         (G)






(repeat and use for first two lines of verse.)


More intro and verse:


Guys, this is close to the “Punch” intro and first verse.

Feel free to edit and be sure to muffle.


I can't seem to make the tabs line up

so I tried notes.  This is not that hard to

play but it's hell to transcribe.








C-D-E-E-C-E-F-F-C-F-E-E-C I'm worried...



C-E C-E B-D-B-D-(bass)F-F-C-F-

(bass)G -D (bass) B -D

C-E C-E B-D-B-D-(bass)F--F-C-F

(bass)G -D (bass) G -D

Im worried about you and I'm worried about me


C-E-C-E-B-D-B-D--A-E-A-E-(bass) G- E -(bass) G- E

(D chord) high notes f#-pe-d-(G chord)

The curves around midnight aren't easy to see


Flashing red C-E-C-E warnings B-D-B-D A-E-A-E bG-D-bG-D

unseen in the (Em7  high notes c-pb-g -rain (F)

This(G)thing has turned (C)in g--f-pe-(F)d (G7)

A runaway (C) train.


Charlie Woodward