Iron Horse
By: Beck Hansen
Written by: Beck Hansen

Versions:
  1. Iron Horse (4:18)
  2.  
 
Lyrics:
Iron Horse [Version (a)]:

Your iron horse is running
Your iron horse is running
Your iron horse is coming
Sixteen coaches long

Stand up, gotta turn it around
Six silver ? burying ground
Stick in the bottom, going pound for pound
No one is leaving here

Better straighten up, run across the floor
Take a good look upon the killing floor
The iron horse will knock upon your door
There's no one leaving here

Your iron wheel's turning
Your firebox burning
You got your dead man stinger
Black diamond and a dead man ringer
(Turning around)

Your iron horse is running
Your iron horse is running

Stand up, gotta turn it around
Six silver ? burying ground
Stick in the bottom, going pound for pound
No one is leaving here

Better straighten up, run across the floor
Take a good look upon the killing floor
Your iron horse is running through the door
No one is leaving here

Your iron horse is running
Your iron horse is running
Your iron horse is running
Iron horse is running
Your iron horse is running down
Your iron horse is running
Your iron horse running cold
Your iron horse is running
 
The Song:

"Iron Horse" is a song Beck did in 2011. He appears to have created it for the TV show, Hell On Wheels. A snippet of it can be heard in a commercial for the show. A full version was initially reported as going to be on the show's soundtrack, but that never materialized; it was however, aired on the show but with all sorts of dialogue over it.

The full version without dialogue leaked wider in 2014.

Beck also registered a couple of other tracks to the copyright database around the same time. Two of these were "City Of Refuge" and "Jacksontown," while still unheard, use common blues phrases/locations as titles. Because of this, I've assumed that all three songs are related, and likely all given to a soundtrack, but only "Iron Horse" was used. (That's just an educated guess, don't quote me on that.)

Anyway, the song has a great flow, with numerous melodies, and a lot of things happening: bass, heavy piano, piercing electric guitar, background vocals, some strange vocal effects. That makes it sound hectic, though, and it most certainly is not. A fascinating recording!

Lyrically, Beck is just tapping into the blues, with iron horses (usually a motorcycle, but here it seems to be a train instead?), killing floors, burying ground, stuff like that. All common blues lines. Not my favorite lyrics Beck has done, but the images are strong and striking.

I like to imagine that this was Beck experimenting in the studio, and he ended up with this unique, Beck-ish twist on the blues.