Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: Restless Heart, “Fast Movin’ Train”

“Fast Movin’ Train”

Restless Heart

Written by Dave Loggins

Radio & Records 

#1 (1 week)

February 23, 1990

“Fast Movin’ Train” is the sound of a superstar band slowing down.

The Road to No. 1

As the nineties began, Restless Heart was the band to beat in country music.   A string of hits that commenced with two top ten singles from their 1985 debut album set the groundwork for Wheels, their sophomore effort that produced four consecutive No. 1 singles, including their first crossover hit, “I’ll Still Be Loving You.”  The album became their first of four consecutive studio sets to earn a gold certification.

Two more No. 1 hits were produced by their third album, Big Dreams in a Small Town, which included an additional two top ten singles.  They previewed their fourth studio set with the title track, which would become their final chart topper.

The No. 1

“Fast Movin’ Train” was written by Dave Loggins, who was responsible for several major country hits in the eighties.   The title is a bit misleading, as the song itself plods along at a meandering pace, undercutting the lyric’s central metaphor.

The band’s low energy and the generic musicianship combine for a remarkably boring record, one better suited for late night Adult Contemporary rotation than the exciting country radio landscape of the time.   Before too long, records like this just weren’t going to cut it anymore.

The Road From No. 1

Fast Movin’ Train managed to match the gold sales of its predecessors, despite less support from radio than those preceding sets.  It was followed by one of their best singles, “You Can Depend On Me,” which had more of a bluegrass feel and became their final hit with original lead singer Larry Stewart.

A fourth gold album followed, Big Iron Horses, which was powered by the major crossover hit “When She Cries” and its AC-dominating follow-up, “Tell Me What You Dream,” which was added to the album after release to capitalize on their pop success.    A final RCA album with produced no hits at any format, leading to the band taking a hiatus before eventually reuniting with Larry Stewart, whose own solo career had stalled after scoring one hit (“Alright Already”) on the country charts.

Since reuniting in the late nineties, the band has remained active on the touring circuit, though they haven’t released any new material outside a Christmas album in 2013.

“Fast Movin’ Train” gets a C.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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7 Comments

  1. I like the slower pace with this song, that doesn’t bother me. This is one of my favorites compared to other songs of theirs and I’d probably bounce it up to a B.

  2. Restless Heart wasn’t one of my favorites, although I didn’t actively dislike them. This song is okay, maybe a C+

  3. I have to agree more the The_trouble_with_the_truth here. This has actually always been of my favorites by Restless Heart, and I think it’s aged better than some of their 80’s work. I especially always enjoyed the melody and guitar work on this one. The piano part near the end is also one thing I always remembered about this song from when it was originally on the radio. It’s certainly more AC than country, but in this instance, it always worked for me.

    I completely agree with you on “You Can Depend On Me” being one of their best songs. Absolutely love that song, and it’s still just as fresh and fun today.

  4. I liked Restless Heart a lot more when I heard them in the nineties than I tend to like them if I hear them now. I’m guessing it’s because my tastes have changed a lot and I liked pop and crossover country music a lot back then.

  5. I had some misguided sense of country purity when I was younger and always considered Restless Heart as proof the barbarians were always threatening country’s gate. Their pop sensibilities didn’t suit me then, but I can more appreciate them now.

  6. I guess I’m going to jump on the bandwagon with some of the commentators, and say…I really, really like this song…enough to comment on it after a week of it’s review being posted. I’m finding out now that Dave Loggins wrote some of my favorite songs that were hits in the 80s/early 90s (Alabama’s “She and I” and “40 Hour Week”, Don Williams “We’ve Got a Good Fire Going” and “Maggie’s Dream” are just a few examples). I also thought Restless Heart did some of their best material around this time, right before Larry Stewart left the band. The production/pace doesn’t bother me in the least…I actually think the production is done very well, and the pace does a nice job building to the passion and unraveling of the narrator/main character.

    This song reminds me a lot of the trope that just about every male singer has a hit with nowadays: the male is in a relationship…it supposedly ends…the woman keeps coming back for “nightly visits”…and the man is left confused/emotional, and at a loss for what to do”. I’ll be honest in saying I dislike a lot of these songs (not all), because they often paint the woman as being cruel and “messing with his heart”, when the guy is not always looking at his own mistakes. Sometimes, mistakes from the guy are not even acknowledged in the song…it focuses almost exclusively on the woman’s behavior. The songs don’t often give equal reflection to both people in the relationship when they’re written from that perspective, and their qualify suffers as a result.

    What I love about “Fast Movin Train” is this: it pretty much paints the picture of an emotionally immature man who is going after all the wrong things, and is somewhat deluded about it. It doesn’t really pull any punches. You could even seriously make the argument he’s soliciting a prostitute, although that’s open to interpretation. This guy knows the woman has a long line of loves, but he doesn’t want to get left behind. He knows about her history and tries to stay away, but is completely consumed by her, and even passively blames her for it. Even after their night of passion, he knows it can’t be real, but again, blames her for it (asking her “Baby, look what you’ve done”). In the chorus, he keeps alluding to getting hit by “another Fast Movin Train”, which shows this isn’t the first time this has happened. I think the characterization of the male in the song is of someone who is extremely lonely, and is unable to see that he’s continually making decisions that are leading him from happiness. Unlike the songs in the trope I mentioned earlier, he is written to be this flawed. He can “blame the woman”, but it rings hollow when he keeps doing the same things over and over again and continually gets hurt. The implied message of the song to me is…if you keep making decisions that leave you hurt emotionally, you need to actively take the blame and make changes to your life in order to find the happiness you are seeking.

    So yeah…I wrote way, way more than I anticipated…but I like the song…lol.

  7. Months later and I have to comment that I love your site. I’ll respectfully disagree as I really enjoyed the song kinda different theme than most hits. I’m neutral with Restless heart but this song would be in my top 5 in their singles. The “Wheels” album was an amazing album from the 80’s. Love to see country music discussions.

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