Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Which Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane?

A few weeks ago, I was playing music with some friends, when the fiddler started playing "The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane." No one could remember very many words, so the next day, I went through my song books. I found the song in four different books, representing three different versions. I also had various sets of lyrics for "Little Old Sod Shanty on the Plain" and "Little Joe the Wrangler." Now, from fifteen years of faithful listening to The Dick Spotswood Show, I know that "Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane" is a composed song, by William Shakespeare Hays. "Little Old Sod Shanty on the Plain" is a nineteenth century parody, and various versions appear in folk song collections, like Vance Randolph's and the Lomaxes'. "Little Joe the Wrangler," which uses the same melody, was written by N. Howard (Jack) Thorp in 1908. It's my favorite cowboy ballad, and it has an anonymous parody, "Little Joe the Wrangler's Sister Nell." (When I say parody, I don't mean to imply that these songs are funny. Both cowboy ballads are tear-jerkers for sure.)

All this started me on an Internet search for "definitive" lyrics for "Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane." Here's what I found.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You can hear the song with original lyrics on a Columbia cylinder (recorded between 1904 and 1909) at the Cylinder Preservation & Digitization site. It is sung by Bob Roberts with banjo accompaniment by Vess Ossman.