Home Page











Slide Shows

Special Features



















Tumbling Leaves

(Bob Nolan)


Days may be dreary, still I知 not weary.

My heart needs no consoling.

At each break of dawn you値l find that I致e gone

Like old tumbling leaves, I知 rolling.


See them tumbling down,

Pledging their love to the ground,

Lonely but free I値l be found

Drifting along with the tumbling leaves.

Cares of the past are behind,

Nowhere to go but I値l find

Just where the trail will wind,

Drifting along with the tumbling leaves.


I know when night has gone

That a new world痴 born at dawn.


Time keeps rolling along,
Why should I care if I知 wrong

Here in my heart is a song,

Drifting along with the tumbling leaves.


Multi-track recording by Dave Bourne of the original song.


        Bob recalled standing at his apartment window one stormy day in late 1929, moodily watching the leaves being torn and whirled from the trees. After a brief reconciliation, his wife Pearl had taken their small daughter and left him for good. The Great Depression was slowly crushing his hopes and dreams. Traveling had always been his escape and it was to traveling that his thoughts turned once more. He scribbled the poem down on a handy piece of paper and called it "Tumbling Leaves". This scrap of paper in Bob's handwriting is all that is left of that original song. The song was registered for copyright in 2004 by Bob Nolan's grandson.


The Calin Coburn Collections ゥ2004


        After the Sons of the Pioneers gained popularity on the radio in 1933, listeners would call in for "the tumbling weeds" song. Harry Hall, the announcer at radio station KFWB, suggested simply changing the title but Bob made a few adjustments to the rhythm as well and the song became "Tumbling Tumbleweeds", the all-time theme song of the Sons of the Pioneers. This is how Bob described making the change.

       There is a newly-awakened interest in the original song, "Tumbling Leaves", because the words are timeless and not necessarily Western. It has not yet been commercially recorded but Dave Bourne generously made the recording you are listening to with Bob Nolan's original verse. This verse was changed by an unknown studio writer when it was sold to the second publisher.



"The Sad History of "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" by Laurence Zwisohn

"Tumbling Tumbleweeds: Evolution of a Western Standard" by Lawrence Hopper



Note: When Bob sued Williamson Music  for the U. S. publishing rights to Tumbling Tumbleweeds, he stated that he wrote the song in 1929. (300 F. Supp. 1311 (1960) p. 1313.)