This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Saturday Rave: Chattanooga Choo Choo by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon

Today I thought I'd drag myself into the twenty first century by featuring some sleek, witty and beautifully constructed lines from rap artists.

Unfortunately my attempt to find any sleek, witty and beautifully constructed lines from rap artists has drawn a bit of a blank. Still, I'm going to keep on trying, so watch this space.

But for now it's back to 1941 and Chattanooga Choo Choo. The middle eight of this song has just been set as a Grade One Piano exam piece and I've been playing it with a young friend.

The music was written by Harry Warren, and the words by Mack Gordon, and the song featured (played by Glenn Miller and his orchestra) in the film "Sun Valley Serenade". It became the world's first gold record, selling over a million copies.

The inspiration for the song was a small, wood-burning 2-6-0 steam locomotive belonging to the Cincinnati Southern Railway.

Perhaps all the lyrics don't all make perfect sense (they don't to me, in any case) but if there's a couplet more inclined to get stuck in the brain than:

Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer
(Then to have your ham and eggs in Carolina)

Then I don't know what it is.


Choo choo on display at Chattanooga Railway Station.
Word To Use Today: Chattanooga. I know this isn't the easiest word to slip into the conversation, but there's a theory that the word derives from the Muskogean word cvto, rock, together with a local suffix -nunga meaning dwelling. I don't think we've featured a Muskogean word on The Word Den before, so I'm afraid Chattanooga was irresistible.
Mind you, Chattanooga might be Cherokee, instead, which is also an extremely cool language.


  1. I love this song. And its brilliant lyrics. As well as memorable words it is a real ear worm and I will now be singing it till bedtime.

    1. Me too. In fact I startled a lady on the canal tow path by letting rip with Chattanooga Choo Choo only yesterday. The West Coast Mainline does run along beside the canal just there, though sadly it goes to Glasgow, which is a fine city, but not nearly as train-rattling as Chattanooga.