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Covered Wagon

(Bob Nolan)


They were built in Missouri from the oak and the pine

And they creaked and groaned but still they made good time.

Though the axles kept breaking and the canvas was tore,

Every man turned his back on his home forevermore.



Across that mighty mountain,

That wide open plain,

Oh, I’ll need you, covered wagon,

To keep me from the rain.


They were driven by buckskin-covered men with a will

And they crossed that plain and then they climbed that hill.

There were some fought and struggled, there were some left their bones,

But they built them a continent of sticks and stones.


When the snow-covered Rockies broke the spokes in the wheels,

Why they pushed and pulled and then they ate cold meals.

Pioneer men and women lie a-buried in sod

Yet they stood by their rifles and their trust in God.


‘Twas the brave pioneer that made this land what it is,

Did the mighty deeds that he claimed was his.

Then that old covered wagon really made history

For it carried the ancestors of you and me.


Repeat refrain, then:


That old covered wagon,

That creaking, groaning wagon,

That prairie boat with canvas coat

That kept us from the rain.



            Photo from the Karl E. Farr Collection and the movie, Rio Grande (1938).


        One of Bob Nolan's later songs, "Covered Wagon" was not registered for copyright until September 24,1985, five years after his death, when Bob's daughter discovered his home demo tape. The words above were transcribed from this tape. Bob had an old home recording machine and he made his own wax demos on it. Many years later, his grandson rented a record player and transferred the old demos to tape. “I remember years ago, soon after Bob died, that my mom went down to see P-Nuts and brought back a box of old 78s. These records were one-time studio recordings of songs that he wrote and never were recorded [commercially]. But we went out and got a 78 record player, needles, (which were hard to find), and hooked it up to a cassette recorder and recorded all the records. As you can imagine the quality was very poor. A little curl of wax built up before the needle so the sound was virtually destroyed.” (Calin Coburn, July 2, 2000)

        We were unable to find sheet music or even lead sheets and the song was never commercially recorded.