The story goes that [American poet Carl] Sandburg “collected” (as they say in the folk music biz) the song in 1927 (about the same time as “John B”) from Dr. T.L. Chapman, an old surgeon in Duluth, Minnesota who maintained that some decades earlier he had treated an anonymous cowboy 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.” According to Chapman (from Sandburg), the cowboy spent several weeks convalescing, singing “The Colorado Trail” several times daily to other patients who just couldn’t get enough of it.
And no wonder. The song is pure (if a bit schmaltzy) genius and includes one especially fine technical point – the rise in the melody of the chorus where the meaning of the words rises – “wail, winds, wail” – with the subsequent gradual stepping down of the melody as the words return to earth – “all along, along, along – The Colorado trail.” (source)
1. Eyes like a morning star, cheeks like a rose,
Laura was a pretty girl everybody knows
Weep, all you little rains, wail, winds, wail.
All along along along the Colorado trail.
2. Laura was a happy girl, smilin’ as the day,
Laura was a pleasant girl, now she’s gone away. Refrain
3. Sixteen years she graced the earth, and all life was good,
Now all life is buried beneath a cross of wood. Refrain
4. Ride all the lonely night, ride all the day,
Keep the herd a-rollin’ on, rollin’ on its way. Refrain
5. Black is the stormy night, dark is the sky,
Wish I’d stayed in Abilene, nice and warm and dry. Refrain
- more cowboy songs
- more songs from the American West
- more songs from the Western states (U.S.)
- more songs with I IV V chords
- more lyrics
Song pdf with chords & midi below