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Origins: Colorado Trail

DigiTrad:
COLORADO TRAIL


Barry Finn 17 Jun 06 - 04:19 PM
Joe Offer 17 Jun 06 - 04:36 PM
Joe Offer 17 Jun 06 - 05:43 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Jun 06 - 07:38 PM
Peace 17 Jun 06 - 10:48 PM
Joe Offer 18 Jun 06 - 12:44 AM
Barry Finn 18 Jun 06 - 11:44 AM
GUEST,VRDPKR 18 Jun 06 - 09:32 PM
Artful Codger 19 Jun 06 - 09:00 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 19 Jun 06 - 09:23 PM
GUEST 27 Jun 06 - 09:08 AM
GUEST,Wayne Monroe 27 Jun 06 - 05:03 PM
Flash Company 28 Jun 06 - 11:54 AM
Goose Gander 28 Jun 06 - 01:28 PM
Goose Gander 28 Jun 06 - 04:45 PM
Barry Finn 28 Jun 06 - 05:39 PM
Cruiser 07 Aug 06 - 04:40 PM
Mr Happy 24 Mar 10 - 12:37 PM
GUEST,j bradley guest 11 Feb 14 - 08:01 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 11 Feb 14 - 09:30 PM
Joe Offer 25 Nov 14 - 10:59 PM
GUEST,Guest 26 Nov 14 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Autoharper 26 Nov 14 - 04:14 PM
GUEST,Jim Moran 10 Aug 17 - 07:16 PM
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Subject: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: Barry Finn
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 04:19 PM

Here's what I have from the CD note from Skip Gorman's Lonesome Prairie Love. Now I love this version & Skip says the last verse is his & the 1st 2nd (2nd now used as a chorus) were the original written (words & tune) by James A Bliss (in 1923 as the "Cowboy Song") which is how it appears in Sandburg's American Songbag whom he collected from Dr T.L. Chapman who in turn remember it from a broken wrangler he treated. Skip also states the tune was in a minor key. I've also seen it said that Lee Hays may have written 2 verses, I don't know if he did & if so if any of his verses are what I have here. There's a possibility that Debussy & Gershwin had something to do with it's popular tune. Anyone have anything to add, correct or comment on?

COLORADO TRAIL    (words & music by James A Bliss)

Eyes like a morning star
Cheeks like a rose;
Laura was a pretty girl
God almighty knows;

Chorus:
Weep all you falling rains,
Wail, winds, wail
All along, along along
The Colorado trail.

additional verses:

Ride, through the lonely night
Ride through the day,
Keep the herd a-movin' on
Movin' on its way.

Ride through stormy night
Dark is the sky,
Wish I'd stayed in Abilene
Were it's mighty and warm and dry.

Face like a prairie flower
Laughing all the day
Laura was pretty girl
Now she's gone away

My aching heart is broke full sore
Pinto never fail
Laura was a pretty girl
Cut down in the gale

Thanks to all
Barry


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 04:36 PM

Hi, Barry - The Digital Tradition has the one verse and chorus that Sandburg provides, plus what appear to be a couple of verses from Lee Hays. Can't tell where the DT tune comes from - it's not exactly what Sandburg has, but it's reasonably close. The entry from the Traditional Ballad Index might be a good place to start from:

Colorado Trail, The

DESCRIPTION: "Eyes like the morning star, Cheeks like a rose, Laura was a pretty girl, God almighty knows. Weep, all ye little rains, Wail, winds, wail, All along, along, along The Colorado trail."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1927 (Sandburg)
KEYWORDS: love beauty nonballad
FOUND IN: US(MW)
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Sandburg, p. 462, "The Colorado Trail" (1 text, 1 tune)
Tinsley, pp. 46-49, "The Colorado Trail" (1 text, 1 tune, including non-traditional lyrics)
Scott-BoA, p. 262, "The Colorado Trail" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 211, "Colorado Trail" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 45, "The Colorado Trail" (1 text)
DT, COLORADT*

Roud #6695
RECORDINGS:
Poplin Family, "Eyes Like Cherries" (on Poplin01, mixing verses of "The Colorado Trail," "Liza Up in a Simmon Tree," and others)
Pete Seeger, "Colorado Trail" (on PeteSeeger30)

NOTES: Lee Hays added several verses to this beautiful little tune, and many singers have recorded them, or added others of their own. The only traditional lyrics, however, are those given above, taken from a horse wrangler who was hospitalized in Duluth, Minnesota and printed by Sandburg. And even those were slightly dubious until confirmed by the Poplin recording. - RBW
The Poplin recording has a chorus which is almost identical to the verse of "Colorado Trail," and to a verse from Bradley Kincaid's recording of "Liza Up in a Simmon Tree." The rest of the song, however, is completely different; I put it here because I couldn't find a better place. - PJS
Last updated in version 3.1
File: San462

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2014 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.



Alan Lomax, The Folk Songs of North America (1960), uses the Sandburg lyrics, so nothing new there. Silber uses those same two Sandburg verses in Folksinger's Wordbook, but calls the pretty girl "Annie." The song isn't in either of my two Weavers songbooks, so I can't help with the Lee Hays angle. I don't have the Scott book.


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Subject: ADD Version: Along the Colorado Trail (Weavers)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 05:43 PM

Along the Colorado Trail
(transcribed by ear from the recording made by The Weavers, October 24, 1950)

Weep all ye little rains,
Wail, winds, wail
All along, along along
The Colorado trail.

Eyes like the morning star
Cheeks like the rose;
Laura was a pretty girl
Everybody knows;
    Weep all ye little rains,
    Wail, winds, wail
    All along, along along
    The Colorado trail.

Laura was a laughing girl,
Joyful in the day;
Laura was my darling girl,
Now she's gone away.
    Weep all ye little rains,
    Wail, winds, wail
    All along, along along
    The Colorado trail.

Sixteen years she graced the earth,
And all life was good;
Now my life lies buried
Beneath a cross of wood.
    Weep all ye little rains,
    Wail, winds, wail
    All along, along along
    The Colorado trail.


The Weavers made another recording of "Along the Colorado Trail" May 9, 1951. Same lyrics, but more orchestration. I didn't find any other Weavers recordings of this song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 07:38 PM

These verses remind me of-

Sweetest li'l feller
Ev'rybody knows;
Dunno what to call him,
But he mighty lak' a rose.
-----------------
Eyes like a morning star
Cheeks like a rose
Laura was a pretty girl
God almighty knows.

First verse from "Mighty Lak' a Rose," 1.
Frank L. Stanton, text, Ethelbert Nevin, music.
John Church Co., 1901.
Second verse from "Colorado Trail." Resemblance coincidental (I think).


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: Peace
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 10:48 PM

Colorado Trail
A beautiful cowboy love song. All sources point to a cowboy from Duluth, MN whose name is unknown. He was brought to the hospital after being thrown and trampled by what he called "a terribly bad hoss." A surgeon, Dr. T.L. Chapman, treated the wrangler for "bones of both upper and lower legs broken, fractures of the collar bone on both sides, numerous fractures of both arms and wrists, and many scars from lacerations."
    As the unknown cowboy convalesced and his strength returned, he sang across the hospital ward in a mellowed tenor voice, and the other patients always called for more. One of the songs he sang was Colorado Trail. Dr. Chapman later remembered the tune to poet and folk singer Carl Sandburg, who included it in his collection The American Songbag.

Source: The American Songbag, by Carl Sandburg. Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich.
Recordings on file by: Cisco Houston, Faith Petric, The Weavers.

from

www.oldtownschool.org/resources/ songnotes/songnotes_C.html


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Subject: ADD: Colorado Trail (Faith Petric version)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 12:44 AM

I've had Faith Petric's CD for a long time, but hadn't really noticed her recording of this song. It's a good one.

Along the Colorado Trail
(from the CD booklet from Faith's Favorites, by Faith Petric)

Eyes like the morning star
Cheeks like the rose;
Laura was a pretty girl
Everybody knows;
    Weep all ye little rains,
    Wail, winds, wail
    All along, along along
    The Colorado trail.

Laura was a laughing girl,
Joyful in the day;
Laura was a darling girl,
Now she's gone away.
    Weep all ye little rains,
    Wail, winds, wail
    All along, along along
    The Colorado trail.

Sixteen years she graced the earth,
And all life was good;
Now all life is buried
Beneath a cross of wood.
    Weep all ye little rains,
    Wail, winds, wail
    All along, along along
    The Colorado trail.

Ride all the lonely night,
Ride all the day,
Keep the herd a-movin' on,
Movin' on its way.
    Weep all ye little rains,
    Wail, winds, wail
    All along, along along
    The Colorado trail.

Wind's comin' down the gulch,
Night birds cry alarm,
Wish I'd stayed in Abilene,
Nice and dry and warm.
    Weep all ye little rains,
    Wail, winds, wail
    All along, along along
    The Colorado trail.

Traditional, collected by Carl Sandburg with additional words by Lee Hays and Faith Petric (looks like the last two verses are Faith's)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: Barry Finn
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 11:44 AM

Still looking for the James Bliss original (or maybe that's all there is), maybe I'll have to wait for when Skip Gorman comes local & see him with the kids. They've both seen him when they were young & really liked him, I used to sing them to sleep with someof the same songs he does & I guess they liked hearing songs that were being performed thyt they aready liked & knew.
Thanks all for prying about.
Barry


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: GUEST,VRDPKR
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 09:32 PM

There is a beautiful history/story about this song in "He Was Singing' This Song" by Jim Bob Tinsley.

Just set up a web page at harpytrails.com.

Scary but fun. Please check us out.

Ken


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: Artful Codger
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 09:00 PM

Harpy Trails?? Is that for songs like "Gorgon to Montana", "Come Boat Me Ogre", "Banshee Was Sweet Sixteen" and "Iron Maiden of the West"?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 09:23 PM

And there's always the way I heard it when I was a kid:

Eyes like the mornin' star,
Cheeks like a rose,
Laura was a pretty girl,
She's got a mighty nose!

(art)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Jun 06 - 09:08 AM

Whatever it is man, from whoever; Colorado Trail is a lovely song. Something about it. Even Don Edwards' version is as good.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: GUEST,Wayne Monroe
Date: 27 Jun 06 - 05:03 PM

Of course, the original Kingston Trio recorded it on their album "String Along".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: Flash Company
Date: 28 Jun 06 - 11:54 AM

I heard it from Burl Ives, just the one verse and chorus, so used to do it as part of a medley of 'little songs which usually don't get much of a hearing', along with 'When Silver bells turn Cockleshells',
and a version of 'Spanish Lady' with a 'Twenty ,eighteen, sixteen, fourteen' chorus. (All pinched from Burl)

FC


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: Goose Gander
Date: 28 Jun 06 - 01:28 PM

Colorado Trail As sung by Boyce Davis, Lincoln, Arkansas on February 29, 1968 from the Max Hunter Folksong Collection

COLORADO TRAIL

Eyes like a morn'n star
Cheeks like a rose
Laura was a pretty girl
God Almighty knows
Weep on ye little rains
Wail winds, wail
All along, along, along,
The Colorado Trail

Sixteen years my Laura lived
And her life was good
Now, she lies a sleep'n here
Beneath a cross of wood
Weep on ye little rains
Wail, winds, wail
All along, along, along
Th Colorado Trail

Have you ever been in love
Have you felt th pain
I'd rather die in a lonesome jail
Then fall in love again
Weep on ye little rains
Wail, winds, wail
All along, along, along
Th Colorado Trail

Stars sink'in in th west
Days gonn'a break
Sun will be a rise'n soon
Everything will wait
Weep on ye little rains
Wail winds, wail
All along, along, along
Th Colorado Trail


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: Goose Gander
Date: 28 Jun 06 - 04:45 PM

According to Western Folklore, vol.15, no.2, (April 1956):

Folklorist Ethel Park Richardson won $100,000 on NBC's "The Big Surprise" televion quiz show for correctly answering a series of questions about folksongs, etc., one of which was regarding the name of the girl in "Colorado Trail" (from an AP dispatch to the Albuquerque Tribune, Dec. 12, 1955).


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: Barry Finn
Date: 28 Jun 06 - 05:39 PM

Thanks Joe & Michael for these recent contributions & every one else for all the input. I'm not above taking bits & pieces & using them, though I'd take all J. Bliss's verses as a matter of personnal preference & use them first. I wasn't planning on learning more than the original song but there are so many beautiful verses by others that I think I'll steal form the bunch & see what I come up with.
Thanks again
Barry


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: Cruiser
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 04:40 PM

Michael,

I really like those enhanced lyrics. I always thought this song needed to tell more of a story and the lyrics you provided have done so.

Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: Mr Happy
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 12:37 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lKJJQVICfo


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: GUEST,j bradley guest
Date: 11 Feb 14 - 08:01 PM

so is the general consensus that Colorado Trail would fall in the public domain.   I would like to include it on one of my CD's.
thanks for the input out there.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Feb 14 - 09:30 PM

Supposedly collected from a horse wrangler by Sandburg, in 1927.


Be careful to avoid lyrics changed or added by various performers.


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Subject: ADD Version: Colorado Trail (Sandburg)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 10:59 PM

So, as far as we can tell, the earliest printed version of the song is in Carl Sandburg's American Songbag (1927), page 462.

Here are Sandburg's notes:
    A hoss wrangler brought a car of ponies to Duluth, Minnesota. The next day, after brave stunt riding, he was laid in a hospital bed with "ruptures on both sides." He told the surgeon, Dr. T.L. Chapman, in a soft, forgiving voice, "That was a terribly bad hoss - not only throwed me, but he trompled me." Out of past years this rider had, Dr. Chapman's examination disclosed, "bones of both upper and lower legs broken, fractures of collar bone on both sides, numerous fractures of both arms and wrists, and many scars from lacerations and tramplings, the bones knit any way that God and Nature let them heal." As his strength came back he sang across the hospital ward in a mellowed tenor voice. And they always called for more. One song was "The Colorado Trail," remembered by Dr. Chapman as here set down.


So, these are the earliest known printed lyrics for this song.

COLORADO TRAIL

Eyes like the morning star
Cheek like a rose;
Laura was a pretty girl,
God Almighty knows.

CHORUS
Weep all ye little rains,
Wail, winds, wail,
All along, along, along
The Colorado trail.




In the initial post, Barry Finn provides very similar lyrics, which he found in a CD booklet from a recording by Skip Gorman. I'm not sure how Barry came up with James A. Bliss as songwriter and 1923 as the date of writing. I haven't been able to find any documentation of that.

This link will take you to background information on the song, and several recordings:


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 11:38 AM

I've heard that it also was a Texas/Arkansas border cowboy song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: GUEST,Autoharper
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 04:14 PM

I wrote the line notes with Faith Petric when we released the Faith's Favorites CD. This is the verse Faith wrote:

Wind's comin' down the gulch,
Night birds cry alarm,
Wish I'd stayed in Abilene,
Nice and dry and warm.

Lee Hays and Fred Hellerman wrote the others.

In _American Songbag_, Sandburg observed the similarities between this classic cowboy love song and the 16th century English poem:

Oh, Western wind, when wilt thou blow
That the small rain down can rain?
Christ, that my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Colorado Trail
From: GUEST,Jim Moran
Date: 10 Aug 17 - 07:16 PM

I stopped by Mudcat to check some info for a seminar I'm conducting on Sandburg's "American Songbag" and was delighted to find my little essay on "Colorado Trail" linked here. Unfortunately, in the last three years Google's Blogger site has converted all http addresses to https addies and Joe Offer's link above won't redirect properly. Here below is the https correct address that will take you to the article for those as interested.

Correct URL For CompVid101's Piece on "Colorado Trail"


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