Song of the Prairie
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.
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.
1934 Standard Radio Transcription #1681 (Tim Spencer solo)
1938 10 04 West of the Santa Fe soundtrack
"Songs of the Pioneers Folio No. 2" – Cross & Winge 1936 07 04 (reissued 1939 American Music)
Chords courtesy of Carlos Fiorelli
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