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The Trail of the Lonesome Pine





Music: Harry Carroll

Lyrics: Ballard MacDonald

Arr: Merv Rowley



The Trail of the Lonesome Pine is based on a novel of the same name, written a year earlier. Apparently the lyricist had never read the book, since the locale of the story was actually the Cumberland Mountains of Kentucky! In any event, the song was a smash hit and inspired a number of movies. One appeared in 1936, starring Fred MacMurray, Sylvia Sydney and a young actor named Henry Fonda. In the following year, the immortal comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy starred in a film called Way Out West, in which they sang and danced to The Trail of the Lonesome Pine. The music for this selection (chorus only) was first published as a 1-3-5 arrangement in Merv’s book, Songs America Loved.  The full version is given here, with verses, as it appeared in Dulcimer Players News (Vol. 31, No. 2 – May-Jul 2005) as part of an article, Joyous New Sounds of Dulcimer Music. p 43.




This is a “fun” tune that employs a form of syncopated rhythm associated with that of the old “soft shoe” dance of vaudeville fame. We see here the effect of “ragtime” tempo on popular music. This tempo is achieved by use of what are know as “couplets” of dotted eighth notes and sixteenth notes. Examples of couplets are seen in the second measure of the chorus, matching the syllables “Moun – tains  of  Vir -”. They give a distinct “bounce” to the tempo, as may be heard on the MIDI sound file.




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