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Tumbleweed Trail

(Bob Nolan)


Barren plains where cattle used to low,
Wind and dust and not a thing will grow.
Donít know what to do, this ainít the west I knew,
Guess my work is thru today.
See that tumbleweed go rolliní by?
What can his hurry be? Why donít he wait for me?
He knows Iím goiní his way.

Gone are the plains where cattle were lowiní,
Gone are the fields where clover was growiní,
Nothing is left and soon Iíll be goiní
Down the tumbleweed trail.

Where is the gal I knew in Wyominí?
Where are the songs she sang in the gloaminí ?
Gone with the wind that started her roaminí
Down the tumbleweed trail.

Sweetheart of mine, Iíll find you;
I know you passed this way
And Iím not far behind you.
Iíll meet you some sweet day

And I will linger, part from you never,
Just as we promised, always together,
Glad that we found this land of forever
Down the tumbleweed trail.


McDonald Photo

        Although "Tumbleweed Trail" was a staple Sons of the Pioneers' song as far back as 1940, Bob Nolan didn't get around to registering it for copyright it until September 10, 1963, two years after they recorded it for RCA Victor (April 19, 1961). It was recorded twenty years before that by Decca
on September 16, 1941. We have found no sheet music other than a lead sheet from American Music, Inc (1963). The song was included in nearly all the major Sons of the Pioneers' radio transcriptions.

        In 1976, Bob Nolan and several members of the Reinsmen travelled up to Robert Wagoner's where they hiked, fished and sang in Wagoner's studio. They sang some of Bob's songs, including "Tumbleweed Trail" and you can hear Bob's baritone booming out.

        Douglas B. Green describes this song best: "All songwriters recycle their best work and Bob Nolan was no exception. Nearly identical in structure to his best known song, ďTumbling TumbleweedsĒ, this composition takes several different lyrical turns: it is a love song, not a celebration of freedom and the west; it is melancholy rather than hopeful, and its ecology-oriented introduction, all too real in the dust bowl era of the 1930s, resonates strongly to this day. This cut also highlights, in addition to the Pioneersí trademark harmony, the contrast between Nolanís powerful, distinctive baritone and Lloyd Perrymanís soaring tenor. Unlike brother and sister groups, which rely on their vocal (and pronunciation) similarities to achieve a seamless blend, the Pioneers achieved similar results with these very distinctly different voices. Improbably, it worked, and worked magnificently." (Douglas B. Green, liner notes to Donít Fence Me In, Rounder C 1102, 1996)


1940 Orthacoustic "Symphonies of the Sage" radio transcription (Lloyd Perryman solo)

1941 Decca 6073 (Bob Nolan and Lloyd Perryman solos)

1941-DLA 2765 (Bob Nolan and Lloyd Perryman solos)

1951-1953 Lucky U radio series (Tommy Doss solo)

1951-1953 Lucky U

Thesaurus (Lloyd Perryman solo)

Unidentified radio transcription (probably Teleways) Bob Nolan solo

1961 RCA Victor (Lloyd Perryman solo)

Ken Curtis

1976 Bob Nolan and the Reinsmen in Robert Wagoner's studio (Wagoner solo)

Robert Wagoner


Chords courtesy of Carlos Fiorelli




Lead sheet: American Music, Inc. (1963) from Jeff Conroy of Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.


Chords courtesy of Carlos Fiorelli



Orthacoustic "Symphonies of the Sage" (064452)

Teleways Transcriptions: #30-71-126-177-241

Lucky U Programs courtesy of Larry Hopper:

14 December 1951. Special Bob Nolan Program. Transcription Disc TR-145
15 February 1952. Transcription Disc TR-242, 243
9 April 1952. Transcription Disc TR-318, 319
26 May 1952. Transcription Disc TR-383, 384
18 August 1952. Transcription Disc TR-479, 480
24 October 1952. Transcription Disc TR-533, 534
9 January 1953. Transcription Disc TR-642, 643