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Old Home Town

(Bob Nolan)

 

I think I’ll take me back today and see my Old Home Town.

I don’t expect to find her still a bride in wedding gown.

But only that she still recalls the one who loved her so

And leads me down the old familiar streets we used to know.

But there’s a strangeness in the air today.

Have I come home or have I lost my way?

This just can’t be the Old Home Town I gave my dreams to hold.

There’s too much make-up on her face, her eyes are much too cold.

 

And so I turn myself around and slowly walk away.

And somehow deep inside I know I won’t be back this way.

So I must close the pages now on this old reverie.

Not only have I lost a love, I’ve lost the memory.

With heavy heart, I step on board this train

Back to that new home town from which I came.

Then just as we rolled out of town, a breeze from who knows where

Blew down to brush my tears away, as she would were she only there.

 

 

            After six months’ patient persuasion by Snuff Garrett, Bob allowed himself to be talked into recording one final album. His voice was still rich and he had a greater range than ever but he was reluctant to start over after over 20 years of retirement. In a 2004 interview by Elizabeth McDonald, Snuff enjoyed telling how he helped select the songs for the LP:

“I went over to Bob’s house about 2 blocks from the CBS Center which was Republic Studios, originally. I went over to his house and rang the doorbell. He was watching "Wagon Train" in the afternoon. I went in and introduced myself, sat down and we watched "Wagon Train". He had the volume up pretty good. When it was over, I said, “Well, thanks. Good to meet you, Mr. Nolan. 'Bye,” and I did that for 9 months. Every time I had a chance I’d go over and ring the bell and I’d watch "Wagon Train". I saw more "Wagon Train" than any TV show I ever saw!

"One day he went over and turned the sound down on the commercial and he said, 'You want me to record, don’t you?' And I said, 'What the hell do you think I’ve been coming here for nine months for – the great lunches we’re having?' We’d been eating bread and meat.

“'How do you want to do it?'

“'I’ll pick 12 songs, you pick 12 songs and we’ll argue down on them until we both like them all. Do you have any songs you haven’t recorded?'

“'Yeah.'

"So we went out into the garage and he had stacks of stuff. Stacked against the wall in the garage. I don’t know whether it was all songs or not but he had a ton of sheet music out there. He took me over to an area where I had picked out Relative Man. I went through and I found 2 songs that I liked, Old Home Town and Wandering. I guess I could have picked out a hundred but I didn’t.”

 

            Snuff gave him great leeway in choosing both the songs and the orchestration. Although he would have preferred to have the current Sons of the Pioneers back him, they weren’t available. “I didn’t want to do Cool Water and Tumbling Tumbleweeds  over again but they convinced me that that’s what people would expect, so I did them.  I loved the background music.  The whole thing was very palatable to me.  Snuff got me everything I wanted.  I wanted certain voices behind it since I couldn’t get the Pioneers because they were under contract to another label.  I would have loved to have the Sons!" 

            Bob told Douglas B. Green in a telephone interview: “You should have heard the first recording of it.  I was a little reticent to choose too many new ones [his own later compositions] because the record wouldn’t be versatile enough to please the people.  I said, ‘Let’s get some other writers in there and have a conglomerative deviation [sic] of songs.’”

            In the liner notes to Bob's last album, Earl Blair wrote, “Bob is letter perfect on each song. It is simply hard to believe that the voice you hear belongs to a seventy-one year old man. It was fascinating to see Bob at work during the recording sessions. Quiet and soft spoken, he rarely blew a take. And between takes, he would lie down in a corner of the studio to rest, his portable tape recorder playing the sounds of a gentle spring rain or the rippling waters of a mountain stream, while some of the most beautiful and poetic music ever written—his music—played back in the studio."

        Don Edwards chose "Old Home Town" as his favorite Nolan song and recorded it on the CD "A Pair to Draw To" with Rex Allen (1999).

 

Recordings:

Sound of a Pioneer, Elektra 1979

Don Edwards "A Pair to Draw To" with Rex Allen (1999)

 

Chords courtesy of Carlos Fiorelli

 

Original lead sheet 

Finished lead sheet

 

Chords courtesy of Carlos Fiorelli