“Starlight On the Rails and Other Songs” (a freestanding book, not the CD box set!) combines the 96 songs from Phillips’ original songs and stories book of the same name published by Wooden Shoe in 1973, with the transcriptions of songs and stories from the four-CD set, also of the same name. This is a song and story autobiography of Bruce “U. Utah” Phillips, assembled by his son Duncan Phillips with a user-friendly spiral binding; with melodies and chords for those who want to approach it with a guitar or banjo in hand, or open it up on a piano.
Duncan writes: “Some folks will love it for the stories; stories from agribusiness and the water wars of the late 1800s as told in “Dog Canyon,” to stories of hobo jungles, riding the rails, and living on the skids. Stories of my father’s early years at the Joe Hill House in Salt Lake City, where he first met Ammon Hennacy and began the long journey towards understanding what it meant to be a pacifist. Other folks will cherish this book for the songs; songs of growing old and having your work run out on you. Songs about the shining airplane “Enola Gay.” Songs of old friends like the legendary Spanish Civil War veteran pianist, Eddie Balchowsky, and tramp friends like Hood River Blackie and Mark Ross. This book still covers all of the standards such as “The Green Rolling Hills of West Virgina,” “The Goodnight-Loving Trail,” and “Roocksalt and Nails,” but it has a few hidden gems as well. Songs like “Rice and Beans,” a song about the disappeared children in Nicaragua during the Somoza dictatorship, and “Pig Hollow,” the story of an old tramp jungle on the outskirts of Ogden, Utah, long since burned down by the law. This book has it all: the stories of people and places, times and events, two million-plus miles traveled over forty-plus years tramping his country; our country.”