Sam Young

contributor to 1 poster

  • Elizabeth Cotten playing Freight Train on guitar


    Freight Train Comes, Freight Train Goes

    My poem is a tribute to Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten, who is a musical hero to me and many others in Syracuse and throughout the world. Libba Cotten grew up poor in the south, and taught herself guitar at a very young age. She developed a unique style of plying, which became known as “Cotten picking.” Her most famous song was “Freight Train” which was recorded and covered by many famous artists during the folk revival.

    She moved to Syracuse towards the end of her life, where she continued to play and record music and tour worldwide. When I learned to play guitar, “Freight Train” was one of the first songs I learned to play. I incorporated several key words from her song into my poem, along with its rhythmic feel. I love the fact that her guitar style was an influence to so many giants in folk and rock music, and that she is such a beloved icon in Syracuse.