Phil Brey has been writing songs for decades. But they went unheard for nearly as long, the lyrics written down and stashed away, the melodies stored in his head or recorded.
Now, however, “Roll On Big Boy,” a song Brey wrote about the last giant Union Pacific locomotive that just rumbled through Nebraska — which he said showed “the power of steam in modern times” — is getting international attention on YouTube, Spotify and other streaming platforms.
To say Brey could never have anticipated that is an understatement. He never intended his songs to see the light of day.
“I wrote songs, and I’d stick them in the drawer,” Brey said. “My wife and son said I should do something with them. I said ‘No.’ Maybe it was modesty.”
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But then, Mark, his son, took over. Now Brey write the lyrics and melody, and Mark does the rest.
The rest is providing the instrumental arrangements for the song, playing guitar and many of the other instruments in Mark’s Virginia studio, and, in the case of “Roll On Big Boy,” finding a Nashville singer to do the vocals.
Writing country songs about trains was nothing new for Phil Brey when he penned “Roll On Big Boy.” Nor was the appeal of the railroad.
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“I was a hobo for a while,” the Raymond native said. “That may have got the adrenaline going on the train songs. Since the ‘70s, I’ve had songs coming through my head.