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.