"Night Train" was an instrumental song, written for the saxophone, and performed by Marvin Berry & the Starlighters at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. When the song was completed, Berry announced that the band was taking a break. George McFly looked up at that moment and realized that it was almost 9 o'clock, and that he needed to go outside to challenge Marty to a fake fight over Lorraine. What George didn't realize was that Biff Tannen was already on his way to the same car. During the break, Marvin's hand was injured, and Marty had to take over the playing the guitar.
Behind the scenes
"Night Train" was made popular by Jimmy Forrest (1920-1980), whose recording was #1 on Billboard magazine's rhythm and blues chart for six weeks in 1952. A recording of the song by Buddy Morrow reached #27 on the popular music charts the same year. "Night Train" continued to be heard on the radio during the 1950s, most notably as the theme for a radio show of the same name on KREL in Houston during the years 1954 to 1957. The Viscounts released a version in 1960, and again in 1966. James Brown did a remake of the song, with lyrics, that was #5 on the R&B chart in 1962. The opening of the song dates back to 1940, when Forrest was part of Duke Ellington's band.
Lyrics were written in 1952, although not part of Jimmy Forrest's recording, nor the Starlighters' performance. They include "Night...train...that took my baby so far away", and the chorus "My mother said I'd lose her if I ever did abuse her, shoulda listened. (pause) Night. Train."
A version of "Night Train" was later used in the 1998 film Rush Hour, in a scene where Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker are in a bar in Los Angeles.