Friday, July 5, 2013

100 years ago: “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine” hit #1

The Trail of the Lonesome Pine

Henry Burr & Albert Campbell

Writer(s): Ballard MacDonald (words), Harry Carroll (music) (see lyrics here)

First Charted: June 21, 1913

Peak: 13 US, 11 GA, 16 SM (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.02 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

This song about the old west was inspired by the 1908 novel by John Fox, SM which was set in the Cumberland Mountains of Kentucky. It “appears to be a ‘cowboy’ song, but it is set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.” TY2 The singer tells us about his girl, who lives in a cabin in the mountains “where a lonesome pine stands.” TY2 He plans to marry her, but meanwhile is waiting underneath that pine tree. They carve their names “under the moonlight in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia on the trail of the lonesome pine.” SM

Muriel Window interpolated the song into The Passing Show of 1914. TY2 Henry Burr teamed up with Albert Campbell, his cohort in the Peerless Quartet, for a #1 version of the song. Between them they scored a whopping 34 #1 songs. Burr topped the charts 16 times on his own and eight times with Campbell, who had three #1’s of his own. With the Peerless Quartet, they had seven songs reach the pinnacle. PM

Elsie Baker and James F. Harrison also recorded the song, taking it to #9 that same year. PM The song was also featured in the stage play The Trail of the Lonesome Pine and its 1936 film adaptation. WK In 1937, Laurel & Hardy sang a “delightful and comic” TY2 version of the song in the movie Way Out West In 1975, their version got to #2 in the UK, thanks to its inclusion on Laurel & Hardy – The Golden Age of Hollywood Comedy, an album of dialogue and songs. WK DJ John Peel championed the song on his Radio 1 evening show. WK

The song is popular in square dancing and was the favorite song of novelist, playright, and poet Gertrude Stein. WK


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First posted 2/27/2023.

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