Interpretation of “Train” by Trypes

What follows is my translation of a song titled “Τρένο” (Train) by an old Greek rock band known as Τρύπες (Trypes) :

[ Also check the high quality metal cover, by Dope Default: ]

First I share the original lyrics, followed by my translation, and then my commentary:


Όταν θα 'ρθείς
να με ξεθάψεις απ' τις στάχτες
και διώξεις από πάνω μου
όλη τη σκουριά
και ξαναβάλεις
τις ρόδες μου σε ράγες
και εγώ αρχίσω να κυλάω ξανά

Τότε οι λύπες θα με ψάχνουν
κι άνεργες θα θρηνούν
θα πέφτουν μανιασμένες οι βροχές
και θα ρωτούν

Τι έγινε κείνο το τρένο που έβλεπε
τα άλλα τρένα να περνούν
Treno (Train)

When you come
to unearth me from the ashes
and clear off of me
all the rust
and place again
my wheels on rails
and I start rolling again

Then the sorrows will be searching for me
and now idle will be mourning
Rains will be falling maniacally
and they will be asking

What happened to that train which spectated
the other trains passing by

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Yet it also is true that a word evokes a thousand images. Train, an otherwise simple song, is a case in point. It tells the story of one who lives from the sidelines. This is a life that goes to waste, covered in ashes and eaten away by rust. It is the grinding routine of a person who does not assume agency; a person conditioned into thinking of their self as worthless.

The “sorrows” and the “rains” represent the naysayers in our life. These can be other people, though they may also emanate from within: figments of our imagination which personify a value we have assumed as truthful a priori.

[ I make a relevant point about thinking of ourselves as a failure in a recent presentation: On learning and being present. ]

They are not questioning us because of how evil they are. Such is a rarity—bullies can be misguided too. It simply has to do with the fact that they echo what they have heard without thinking it through.

Take the common beliefs in favour of marriage as a means of fulfilment: the normativity of marriage and all the institutional arrangements revolving around it or predicated on it. You have to marry and you must do it while you are young. If, for whatever reason, you are past thirty and have not married yet, others in your milieu will think of you as a failure of sorts.

“Where is your wife? How many children do you have?” I lost count of the times I’ve heard these… If you believe in the notion that you are a person manqué, a “half” who must necessarily find some “other half” to qualify as a fully fledged human being, you will spend the remainder of your days belittling yourself for your perceived worthlessness. You are conditioned into thinking that not conforming with a social norm is indicative of a defect of yours. Much like the train in the song, you will live in sorrow, merely spectating the others. You do not appreciate what you have—there is so much you could do with it, provided you showed the requisite self-respect.

Make no mistake: there is nothing wrong with marriage per se. It is the “you must do it” part that is problematic. It serves as a simplistic yardstick by which everyone is measured. A one-size-fits-all that turns into a ritual of casting everyone into a mould. Do it and you are worthy; don’t conform and you jeopardise your position. There is no nuance, no tolerance for the hitherto undefined. Such a crude formulation incentivises people to conform with a role. Those who accomplish the task in this little game earn a type of credit— the superficial respect of others—which they hope to redeem in exchange for some other goods. Not pursuing those tokens means that you lose out on the subsequent transactions. How unfortunate!

The song starts with a call to a figure who liberates us from the fetters that hold us still. This can represent an altruistic fellow who helps us accept who we are, or it symbolises a revelation that springs to mind. Whether someone else puts us back on our tracks or we achieve it by ourselves, we take the initiative: instead of spectating others while being sad, we venture fearlessly into the great unknown, at peace with what our nature renders inescapable.

The naysayers find comfort in your inertia: they work laboriously towards that end as it ultimately justifies their condition. Do not believe their value judgements to be true in advance. Move on. Start rolling again. Find your own way. Let them grow paranoid as they wonder what happened to the one they once held captive.

You are free. The fetters are now theirs.