Written and first recorded by Tom Waits (1985).
Also recorded by Mary Chapin Carpenter (1987), Patty Smyth (US #95 1987), Bob Seger (1989, released 2011 MOR #11), The Piano Has Been Drinking (recorded as “Rude Jolf”) (1990), Everything But the Girl (1992).
Hit version by Rod Stewart (US #3/UK #10/CAN #1 1989).
From the wiki: “‘Downtown Train’ is a song written and first recorded by Tom Waits, released on his album Rain Dogs in 1985. The promo video for the song was directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino and features the boxer Jake LaMotta.
“Rod Stewart recorded a cover version that became a #3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart after being released as a single in late 1989, and was also a #1 single on the album rock and adult contemporary charts. Stewart’s recording also received a Grammy nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal performance, and features the slide guitar playing of Jeff Beck, who also appeared on the music video.
“Other artists who have covered ‘Downtown Train’ include Mary Chapin Carpenter, who included it on her debut album Hometown Girl in 1987; and Patty Smyth (former of the band Scandal), who released a version that same year that reached #95 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Bob Seger recorded a cover in 1989, but opted not to release it (until 2011, on Ultimate Hits: Rock and Roll Never Forgets) because Stewart’s version had just been released weeks earlier. When Seger’s cover did appear in 2011, it peaked at #11 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. Everything But the Girl a produced a cover of the song in 1992, an acoustic arrangement, for their Acoustic album.
“The German Toms Waits-cover band The Piano Has Been Drinking recorded an arrangement of ‘Downtown Train (Rude Jolf)’ for their 1990 album The Piano Has Been Drinking, an album that consists of nothing other than cover versions of Waits songs sung in the Kölsch (Colognian) dialect.”
Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Downtown Train” (1987):
Patty Smyth, “Downtown Train” (1987):
Bob Seger, “Downtown Train” (1989, released 2011):
Rod Stewart, “Downtown Train” (1989):
The Piano Has Been Drinking, “Rude Jolf” live (1990):
Everything But The Girl, “Downtown Train” (1992):