"Chattanooga Choo Choo" - foolish question

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"Chattanooga Choo Choo" - foolish question

Postby ERWman » Fri Jun 22, 2012 1:53 am

Hello! English is not my native language and I want to ask specialists about the whistle of Glenn Miller's "Chattanooga Choo Choo" in phrase:

"When you hear the whistle blowin' eight to the bar
Then you know that Tennessee is not very far"

Whose whistle meant? Conductor's? Bar manager's? Locomotive driver's?

Why eight? Is it eight o'clock p.m.?

Thank you :smile:
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Re: "Chattanooga Choo Choo" - foolish question

Postby railtwister » Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:09 am

I googled "8 to the bar" and came up with this link, http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/sho ... p?t=135262, and scrolling down to the 4th answer, found this description, "Actually, 8 notes to the (usually) 4 beat bar, or measure, or twice as fast as the beat (or two notes to each beat). One element of marking musical time is the measure, which can have a variety of number of beats in it, the most common being four. In swing and jazz music, which was popular when this phrase was used, the 4 beat measure was used most of the time. When counting the beats per measure, you would count 1-2-3-4-, one per beat. 8 notes to the measure or bar would be counted 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & ."

I am not a musician, and am actually pretty ignorant of musical language, but I believe the phrase "eight to the bar" is a musical term for a faster rhythm, so I would take the meaning of the line to be that the locomotive's whistle is blowing faster, in this case perhaps signaling to the crew (or anyone else) that the train is nearing a significant point on it's route, such as crossing a state line. Just a guess...

Bill in FL
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Re: "Chattanooga Choo Choo" - foolish question

Postby CaTTwoman281 » Fri Jun 22, 2012 4:09 pm

An explanation that we got from a worker at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, in Chattanooga, TN that the "Eight to a bar" was a reference to the Doppler effect, where the whistle sounds successively closer due to the approach of the locomotive.

The whistle mentioned in the song does reference the locomotive whistle.

Fun Fact #1: There is a hotel in Chattanooga that is named the Chattanooga Choo Choo, and has a large HO layout in it, a small museum of it's own with a restored steam locomotive as well. There are even restored and modified passenger cars available to sleep in as well there.

Fun Fact #2: There is a set of rails inlaid in the ground near the Tennessee Valley Aquarium, listing past and present railroads that serve the Chattanooga area, and a little further along, there is granite "ties" that have the lyrics to the song "Chattanooga Choo Choo" engraved in them.

Fun Fact #3: There is an awesome restaurant that serves some wicked good frog's legs near those aforementioned rails.
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Re: "Chattanooga Choo Choo" - foolish question

Postby ConducTTor » Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:03 pm

CaTTwoman281 wrote:There is a hotel in Chattanooga that is named the Chattanooga Choo Choo, and has a large HO layout in it, a small museum of it's own with a restored steam locomotive as well. There are even restored and modified passenger cars available to sleep in as well there.


Chattanooga's only a couple of hours from Atl.....I should go visit these places you speak of.....
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Re: "Chattanooga Choo Choo" - foolish question

Postby AstroGoat760 » Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:47 pm

ConducTTor wrote:
CaTTwoman281 wrote:There is a hotel in Chattanooga that is named the Chattanooga Choo Choo, and has a large HO layout in it, a small museum of it's own with a restored steam locomotive as well. There are even restored and modified passenger cars available to sleep in as well there.


Chattanooga's only a couple of hours from Atl.....I should go visit these places you speak of.....


Nicholle and I are thinking of moving to Chattanooga. There are some very good veteran's help programs that the state runs, including a program that the TVA runs that accepts the time I spent training, operating, and repairing nuclear reactor and control equipment for the Navy. Of course that is all pending my getting cleared to work again. Even if not, I could always do some light duty volunteer work at the TVRM. (I would love to be able to do something with the restoration of Southern 4501, and in all likelihood, my HP 2-8-2 will be painted and lettered for the 4501, just need to decide if it should be Freight Black, or Excursion Sylvan Green.)

You could easily spend a few weekends there and not see everything. The Tennessee Aquarium can take 6-8 hours itself to fully take in.

Let me see if we can find the pictures of the Chattanooga Choo Choo lyrics.
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Re: "Chattanooga Choo Choo" - foolish question

Postby ERWman » Sat Jun 23, 2012 2:28 pm

Many thanks to all for your versions!
It was very interesting and unexpected!
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Re: "Chattanooga Choo Choo" - foolish question

Postby dileTTante » Sat Jun 23, 2012 10:52 pm

From an internet search pages such as this--
http://trn.trains.com/en/Railroad%20Ref ... gnals.aspx
--show no whistle signal combination which would produce 8 to the bar even with Doppler effect. Maximum number of blasts in a signal are four. Doppler effect only increases or decreases pitch depending on direction. It doesn't make an echo or double the beats.

In my opinion the eight to the bar is only to make like the locomotive engineer is a swing musician, in the mood of the song.
Similar is the Grateful Dead song 'Casey Jones' who is --'Driving that train, high on cocaine,' because the song is from the hippie era.
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Re: "Chattanooga Choo Choo" - foolish question

Postby AstroGoat760 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:57 am

Found 'em!

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