“The Loco-Motion” by Grand Funk Railroad

The recording history of “The Loco-Motion” dates back to 1962, when it was laid down by Little Eva (1943-2003) and proved to be a major hit. Its authors are lyricist Gerry Goffin (1939-2014) alongside singer/songwriter Carole King. At the time the pair were married, and interesting to note is that Eva was actually their maid, whom they specifically wrote “The Loco-Motion” for in relation to her personal style of dance.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Grand Funk Railroad's The Loco-Motion at Lyrics.org.

Due to its popularity a number of acts have covered this song throughout the years, including the likes of Kylie Minogue in 1987 and Carole King herself a few years prior to that. 

As for Grand Funk Railroad’s rendition, their version of “The Loco-Motion”, which was released during May of 1974, served as the lead single of their album “Shinin’ On”, which came out that same year via Capitol Records.


Grand Funk Railroad had only been around since 1969, but 1974’s “Shinin’ On” was already their eighth studio album. In other words, this band, which hails from Flint, Michigan, was, in its heyday, quite prolific. 

And whereas apparently they never won a Grammy or anything like that, they were also perennially poppin’ during that time. For instance, Grand Funk dropped a string of seven studio albums between 1970 and 1974 that scored within the top 10 of the Billboard 200. 

And as for “The Loco-Motion”, their rendition topped the Billboard Hot 100, Cash Box Top 1000 and Canada Top Singles. That said, Grand Funk Railroad is still extant to this day, though they haven’t dropped a studio album since 1983’s What’s Funk?.

As for the members who actually participated on the recording of “Shinin’ On”, two of them, bassist Mel Schacher and drummer Don Brewer, are still active in the band. The other co-founders, singer Mark Farner, also participated, as did keyboardist Craig Frost, who joined a bit later down the line.


As far as music charts go, Grand Funk Railroad’s rendition of “The Loco-Motion” stands as their biggest hit. And this is despite the reality that, according to Don Brewer, it was not the band’s original intent to lay down a cover.

What actually happened is that while in the studio working on the aforementioned album with its producer, Todd Rundgren, Mark Farner began singing the song. And with Lil Eva’s original being a well-known classic (even into the 21st century arguably), the rest of the band proceeded to sing along, and they decided to give a party-oriented cover of “The Loco-Motion” a try. 

Interesting to note is that the success of their version made history, being only the second time that both the original and cover of a song reached the summit of the Hot 100.

The Loco-Motion


“The Loco-Motion” is one of the most recognizable dance songs in American music history.  The lyrics aren’t painfully specific in terms of illustrating how to bust the titular move, but apparently it is called so because participants are instructed to “make a chain” and “move around the floor in a loco-motion”, i.e. imitating the movements of a train on its tracks. 

Besides that, adherents are supposed to engage in activities such as ‘swinging your hips’ and ‘jumping back’, which doesn’t sound like anything complicated at all. Or as the vocalist puts it, even his “baby sister can do it with ease”.

And to reiterate, this is apparently supposed to be something like a communal or group dance, with the vocalist singer for instance that he and the addressee are bustin’ the Loco-Motion together. Or more specifically, it’s as if Grand Funk’s rendition has more of a romantic or female-centric undertone, as in their case they seem to more firmly stress the notion that said addressee is their “baby”, i.e. romantic interest.

“Everybody’s doin’ a brand new dance now
(Come on baby, do the Loco-Motion)
I know you’ll get to like it if you give it a chance now
(Come on baby, do the Loco-Motion)
My little baby sister can do it with ease
It’s easier than learnin’ your ABCs
So, come on, come on, and do the Loco-Motion with me”

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