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Song of the Prairie

(Bob Nolan)

 

I heard the song of a prairie dove, I heard a coyote wail.

I heard the beat of his tired feet as he stole down the moonlight trail

Into the night, callin’ his mate, callin’, but all in vain

Till the wind that sighs and the prairie skies were filled with a sad refrain.

 

Refrain:

Prairie, garden of purple hue

Covered by heavens blue

Making my worries few,

I’m glad to be here with you, singing a song.

Moon, just like a maiden fair,

Stardust is scattered there

Over your golden hair,

Beauty beyond compare, singing a song.

Every living thing

Beneath the sky begins to sing,

Till your very soul will ring

With the longing that they bring

In their sighing, crying song.

Wind, breath of an angel’s sigh,

Sending your lonesome cry

Down from the midnight sky.

Heaven is right close by, singing a song.

 

Photo by Terril Heilman

 

        Although some of his songs are easy to sing, many are not. With its pensive mood, intricate chord changes and a melody line with the typical Nolan structure of ascending and descending chromatic notes, "Song of the Prairie" is difficult to sing well. A young Lloyd Perryman, with his vocal range and ability to sing with great tenderness, did the song justice. It is an exquisite melodic picture of the high desert at night. Bob always tried to “wed both music and lyrics to each other ”, as he said to Douglas B. Green.

        One of Bob Nolan's first masterpieces, "Song of the Prairie" was written from his heart. The Sons of the Pioneers recorded it for their massive Standard Radio Transcription series. The song was registered for copyright on July 4, 1936, and the sheet music was included in  their "Songs of the Pioneers Folio No. 2" – Cross & Winge 1936 07 04 (reissued 1939 American Music). Columbia Pictures picked it up for their Charles Starrett movie, "West of the Santa Fe" It was also a part of their Symphonies of the Sage series in 1940 when they were at their peak. Finally, when his voice was beginning to tire, Lloyd Perryman recorded it for RCA Victor as a salute to Bob Nolan.

 

Recordings:

1934 Standard Radio Transcription #1681 (Tim Spencer solo)

1938 10 04 West of the Santa Fe soundtrack

1940 Orthacoustic "Symphonies of the Sage" radio transcription (Lloyd Perryman solo)
1966 01 18 RCA Victor (Lloyd Perryman solo)

Ken Curtis

Robert Wagoner

 

Chords courtesy of Carlos Fiorelli

 

TRANSCRIPTIONS

"Songs of the Pioneers Folio No. 2" – Cross & Winge 1936 07 04 (reissued 1939 American Music)

 

Chords courtesy of Carlos Fiorelli

 

TRANSCRIPTIONS:

Standard Radio Transcription #1681

Orthacoustic "Symphonies of the Sage (064469 Supplement 6)

Teleways Transcriptions: #107-147-199-252

Lucky U Program courtesy of Larry Hopper:

14 December 1951. Special Bob Nolan Program. Transcription Disc TR-145