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In the Pines, Pt. III

Previously and previously, I wrote that I had been dicking around (with others – Maynard and Jeremy) with a version of In the Pines, an old traditional folk song from where I grew up.

The lyrics to the song and the story it tells change a lot. In a 1970 dissertation, Judith McCulloh found 160 permutations of the song. Sometimes the girl is raped, sometimes, not. Sometimes the man is killed by a train. Sometimes not.

Anyways, certain bits kept sticking in my head, and I realized that, subconsciously or not, I had my own version of the story. So I wrote up some new lyrics for it that change its tone somewhat. The “narrator” is revealed unambiguously to be both the murderer and a ghost, forced now to eternally wander through the Pines (hell, maybe?), searching for his girl.

In the Pines

My girl, my girl, Don’t lie to me
Tell me where did you sleep last night?
In the pines, in the pines,
Where the sun never shines
I’ll shiver all the night through

Her father was a hard-workin’ man
Lived a mile and a half from here
Her head was found in a dried up well
But her body never was found

My girl, my girl, where did you go?
I hid from the wrath I sown
In the mines, in the mines,
Where the sun never shines
I shivered all the night through.

My breath was chill’d in the tunnel’s air
Murder – girl sixteen years old
The sheriff come; he shot me there
Left me dead in the coal dust and cold

My girl, my girl, where did you go?
I’m goin’ where the cold winds blow
In the pines, in the pines
Where the sun don’t ever shine
I’ll shiver all night through

My girl, my girl, don’t lie to me
Tell me where did you sleep last night?
In the pines, in the pines,
Buried bones, bound with twine
I still wander, searching for you.

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4 Responses

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  1. angel_boi says

    i think you do yourself and “your” song great disservice by putiing ‘The “narrator” is revealed….’ before the lyrics themselves

    • jorm says

      Well, I’m not sure I claimed it as “my” song – just my lyrics. But that sits within the history of the song.

  2. strontium90 says

    Reminds me of all the permutations out there for the ballad “Stagger Lee.” Violent folk songs and mountain blues ballads are fantastic stuff. One could do whole albums collecting the various versions of one without any of the numbers ever sounding repetitious.

    I like the lyrics here. Forlorn and spooky.

    • jorm says

      The other day someone asked me “what kind of music do you listen to” and I startled myself when I realized that I really like traditional folk music.

      Some of it’s religious, some of it not – but it’s all powerful. My grandmother used to sing it to me when I was a child; I surprised someone by knowing how to sing fully half the songs from O Brother Where Art Thou the first time I saw the film.

      In a way, I want to do the opposite of what Johnny Cash did. He took modern rock and metal tracks and made them folksy; I want to take old folk stuff and make them modern and metal.

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