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World Wide Bluegrass NEWS! Best Bluegrass Music NEWS On the Planet! Bluegrass Music NEWS all about the Industry
NEWS Last Updated: Tuesday October 14th, 2014 02:10:12 pm EST
Published: Wednesday - May 13, 2009 at 07:29:38 AM
Carter Family Songs Part 1: A-L
Origins and Sources of The Original Carter Family Songs in Alphabetical Order: Part 1:  A-L
This is a summary of the origins and sources of the 242 different original Carter Family songs recorded from 1927 until 1941. From 1927, when they made their first recordings, until they disbanded in 1943, A. P., Sara and Maybelle Carter were the collective voice of rural America. Hailing from Maces Springs, Virginia-just a few mountainous miles from where Ralph Stanley was born-the Carters enriched country music with a torrent of soulful ballads and hymns, among them "Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow," "Keep On The Sunny Side" and the incomparable "Wildwood Flower."

Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley recently recorded: A Distant Land To Roam-Songs Of The Carter Family. "I met all of the Carters," Stanley recalls, "and I got to know A.P. pretty well when Carter and I were doing our early radio work on WCYB in Bristol, Virginia." The Carters songs have long been a source of songs for every bluegrass picker. This is a listing of the sources of complete songs recorded by the "original" Carter Family.

The songs will be listed in alphabetical order first then in the order they were recorded. An asterisk before the title indicates that either a member of the Carter Family wrote the song, another musician wrote the song after 1923 or we don't know the source of the song yet. An asterisk also indicates that the Carters, Peer Int or whoever the copyright is assigned, has a valid copyright on the song.

The idea of this article is to give a brief summary of the origin. This will help musicians, record companies and publishers determine whether they can freely use the songs. Remember that the Carter Family arrangements are also copyrighted and unless the Carters used other musicians arrangements (which they did in some cases) using their exact arrangement could be considered a copyright infringement.

About 90% of the Carters songs are based on other songs. Many of the Carters arrangements and lyrics based on other songs are freely used today. The Wildwood Flower, Circle Be Unbroken, and Worried Man Blues just a few that are considered PD or traditional.

The date for free use in regard to published sheet music and lyrics is 1923. Anything before 1923 is free to use. Any song may be recorded but a mechanical licensing fee is owed the copyright holder on songs after 1923 that have a valid copyright.

Here is how the short alphabetical summary is organized:


Original Carter Family Song Sources Alphabetical by Title A-L:

Amber Tresses: 1874- "Amber Tresses Tied in Blue," Words Samuel M. Mitchell, Music H. P. Danks; Carters-1932

Anchored in Love: 1911- "Anchored in Love Divine" James Rowe & James Vaughan; Carters-1928

*Answer to Weeping Willow: 1936- A rewrite by the Carters of "Bury Me Beneath The Willow" Carters-1936

*Are You Lonesome Tonight?: 1926- Lyrics Roy Turk, music Lou Hindman. Carters-1936

Are You Tired of Me, My Darling?: 1877- Song by Cook and Roland; Carters-1934

*Away Out on Saint Sabbath: 1872 Chorus, Verses unknown date- A rewrite of an unknown song based on "Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie" from a ballet (lyrics) set to music in 1934 by Sara. Carter Family- 1934.

*Bear Creek Blues: 1940- traditional blues verses (1920-1940) from Blind Lemon Jefferson and others from Leslie Riddle arranged by Carters. The Carters added Bear Creek to the verses. Carters-1940

Beautiful Home: 1898- Song by J. Howard Entwisle and Johnson Oatman; Carters-1940

*Beautiful Isle O'er the Sea: Collected 1919 as traditional song "Beautiful Light O'er The Sea" probably based on an earlier song, maybe George Copper's song "Beautiful Isle of the Sea." Recorded by Carters in 1940.

Behind Those Stone Walls: Early 1900s- traditional folk song titled "Saint Louis, Bright City" Laws E35d and also known as "Behind the Great Wall" arranged by Carters from an unknown source. Carters-1935

*Birds Were Singing of You: Unknown date; based on an unknown song by A.P. Carter. Carters-1930

Black Jack David: 1740 (Ramsay) Child 200 "Gypsy Davy"- traditional English folk song; arrangement taken from Cliff Carlisle's 1939 version which was based on David Myrick's earlier version. Carters-1940

*Blackie's Gunman: Unknown Date; Rewrite of an unknown song. Referenced to Wilgus. Carters-1940

Bonnie Blue Eyes: 1800s- Traditional arranged by Carters. "Goodbye, Little Bonnie, Blue Eyes" was first reported "written" in 1907 by Louise Rand Bascom in the 1909 JOAFL. She also states that it was "ten years older at least." Carters-1936

Bring Back My Blue Eyed Boy: 1800s- Collected by Louise Pound in 1922; Traditional folk song; Arranged by Carters-1929

Bring Back My Boy: 1800s- same song as "Bring Back My Blue Eyed Boy;" Carters-1938 Decca

Broken Down Tramp: 1870s- Words and Music by Thomas Herrington related to "Broken Down Sport." Carters-1937

*Broken Hearted Lover: 1800s- Arrangement of an unknown traditional song; Carters-1932 and 1935

*Buddies in the Saddle: 1940- Original song or based on an unknown song, attributed to Maybelle Carter; Carters-1940

Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow: 1909 Belden- traditional folk song. First song recorded by Carters-1927

*By the Touch of Her Hand: 1935- Unknown song attributed to A.P. Carter; Carters-1935

Can the Circle Be Unbroken: The chorus is 1907 by Words[/b]: Ada Habershon, Music[/b]: Charles Gabriel as "Will The Circle Be Unbroken." Verses unknown may be from earlier Welling-McGhee recording. Carters-1935

Can't Feel at Home: 1919- Traditional folk hymn and spiritual. Carters-1931

Cannonball (Blues): Early 1900s- Traditional song learned from Leslie Riddle based on earlier song. Carters-1930 and 1935

Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers in Texas: 1931 skit Carters with Jimmie Rodgers-1931

*Carter's Blues: 1800s- Rewrite of the traditional folk song "As I Walked Out One Morning Fair" and is related to "Love Has Brought Me to Despair." The title would need to be changed to avoid copyright issues. Carters-1929

Charlie and Nellie: Early 1900s- Traditional folk song based on earlier recordings "Nellie Dare and Charlie Brooks" Carters-1938

Chewing Gum: 1800s- songbook entitled "A Collection of Favorite Songs as Sung by Ben Maginley. Traditional song arranged by Carters-1928

Church in the Wildwood: 1857 William P. Pitts; rewrite 1911 James Rowe; based on gospel song "Little Brown Church in the Vale" Carters-1932

*Coal Miner's Blues: Early 1900s- arranged and collected by Leslie Riddle/A.P. Carter; traditional lyrics from VA coal camp. Carters-1938

Cowboy Jack: 1893- Western rewrite of "Your Mother Prays for You Jack" by F. M. Eliot. Lyrics not by Carters. Carters-1934

Cowboy's Wild Song to His Herd: 1912- Based on a poem in Rhymes from the Rangeland. Wesley Beggs is considered to be the original author of the text of this song. Carters-1934

*Cuban Soldier: Late 1800s early 1900s- based on an unknown song or lyrics. Sara said they got the "poetry" and either she or Maybelle put music to it. Carters-1938

*Cyclone of Rye Cove: May 2, 1929, an unusually violent storm struck the little community of Rye Cove, located in the mountains of Scott County. Song was written by A.P. Carter and recorded in 1929.

Dark and Stormy Weather: Early 1900s- based on the traditional song "I Don't Know Why I Love Her/Him." Recorded by Carters-1941

Dark Haired True Lover: 1918 text is in Robert Gordon Collection #1536; Traditional Folk song; Arr. Carters-1937

Darling Daisies: 1882- "Down by the Garden Wall" by Max Vernor. Carters-1934

Darling Little Joe: 1866- Song by V. E. Marsten "Death of Little Joe." Carters-1934 Also recorded as "Little Joe" in 1938.

*Darling Nellie Across the Sea: 1800s- Based on an unknown song. Per Charles Wolfe, Sara wrote much of the song herself (implying an antecedent). Carters-1930

Diamonds in the Rough:1897- C.W. Byron (words) and L.L. Pickett (music). Carters-1929 and 1936

Distant Land to Roam: 1902- L.M. Bandy's song "Leaving Home" Carters-1929

Don't Forget Me Little Darling: 1874- C.W. Vance (Words) and R. S. Crandall (Music). Carters-1935 for ARC

Don't Forget This Song: 1910- Traditional based on "Bad Companions" or "Young Companions" Carters-1935

Dying Mother: 1881 Nona Lawson- words and C. M. Tate; Carters-1940

*Dying Soldier: 1800s- based on an unknown song; the title may be used. Carters-1930

East Virginia Blues: 1800s- Traditional; arranged by Carters 1934

East Virginia Blues No. 2: 1800s- Traditional; arranged by Carters 1935

Engine 143: 1915 by Cox- traditional ballad also called the "Wreck on the C & O" based on the Oct 23, 1890 death of engineer George Alley when the FFV train on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad was wrecked by a landslide near Hinton, West Virginia. Carters-1929

*Evening Bells Are Ringing: 1934 based on an unknown song by A.P Carter; Carters 1934

Faded Coat of Blue: 1865- Civil War song by J.H. McNaughton; Carters- 1934

Faded Flowers: 1851- song by James Powers and JH Brown; Carter Family- 1933

*Fate of Dewey Lee: 1935- Song about the January 31, 1931 murder of Dewey Lee; based on a poem sent to A.P. Carter; Carters-1935

*Farewell Nellie: 1800s-reworking of traditional material by Sara Carter; Carters-1937

Fifty Miles of Elbow Room: No Date known; written by Herbert Buffum 1879-1939. Sara said it was a hymn she heard in California, at Charlie and Mary Bayes's Adventist church. Carters-1941

Foggy Mountain Top: Early 1900s- Traditional, based on earlier folk song. Collected in 1916 by Cecil Sharp. Carters-1929

Fond Affection: 1800s (1911 Combs)- traditional arranged by Carters; Carters-1929

Forsaken Love: 1800s- traditional arranged by Carters 1928

Funny When You Feel That Way: 1873- "It's Funny when you Feel that Way" by George Harris. Per Wolfe, versions credit G.W. Hunt. Carters-1937

Gathering Flowers from the Hillside: 1800s, collected Belden 1909- Traditional song; arranged by The Carter Family. Carters-1935

Girl on the Greenbrier Shore: 1910- Traditional song collected Combs; Arranged by The Carter Family. Wolfe[/b]: based on an incident which occurred in 1896. Carters-1941

Give Him One More as He Goes: 1884- Words and Music by Ike Brown "I'll Give You One More as You Go." Carters-1940

Give Me Roses While I Live: 1925- James Rowe (lyrics) R. H. Cornelius (music). Carters-1933

Give Me Your Love and I'll Give You Mine: 1902- L. A. Davis- lyrics M. J. Fitzpatrick- music "You Give Me Your Love [And I'll Give You Mine]" Carters-1936 Decca

Glory to the Lamb: Circa 1900- Hymn Collection titled the "New Onward and Upward" Carters-1935

God Gave Noah the Rainbow Sign: 1800s, Early 1900s- Traditional African-American Spiritual usually named "I Got A Home the Rock." From Leslie Riddle-Pauline Gray. Carters-1929

Gold Watch and Chain: 1879- Traditional chorus based on the Reuben's Train songs. The verses are from 1879 Westendorf song, "Is There No Kiss For Me Tonight, Love." Carters-1933

Goodbye to the Plains: Early 1900s- Traditional Western song "The Dying Cowboy of Rim Rock Ranch" arranged by Carter Family. Tune is "The Mule Song," by Edward Harrigan and Dave Braham, pub. 1882. Carters-1937

Gospel Ship: Circa 1900- Traditional gospel song arranged by Carter Family. Also named "Old Gospel Ship." Carters-1935

Grave on the Green Hillside: 1875- Gospel song by Aldine Kieffer. Carters-1929

Happiest Days of All: 1875- Will Thompson song "Gathering Shells From the Seashore." Carters-1932

Happy in the Prison: Early 1900s- Traditional African-American Spiritual also known as "When I Lay my Burdens Down" arranged by Carter Family. Carters-1938

Happy or Lonesome: 1913 Dick Burnett songster- Traditional song "Are You Happy or Lonesome" arranged by Carter Family- 1934

He Never Came Back: 1891- Words and music by William Jerome. Also titled "When We Meet on that Beautiful Shore." Carters-1937

He Took a White Rose from Her Hair: Early 1900s- Traditional song "The (Little) White Rose" arranged by Carter Family- 1935

Heart That Was Broken for Me: 1914- Southern gospel song by Judson W. Van De Venter (1855-1939) Carters-1938

*Heaven's Radio: 1930s- Gospel song, no confirmed source, arranged by Carter Family. Carters-1940

Hello Central, Give Me Heaven: 1901- Gospel song by Charles K. Harris. Carters-1934

*Hello Stranger: Early 1900s- Traditional blues lyrics arranged by Carter Family. Carters-1937

Hold Fast to the Right: 1906- Gospel song by James Vaughan; Carters-1937

*Home by the Sea: 1800s- Possible rewrite of "Dear Old Home Beyond the Sea" by A. Hamilton Sims and William A. Keller written in 1887. For now it's based on an unknown song. Carters-1937

Home in Tennessee: circa 1925- Song by Maggie Andrews (Alias Carson Robison) titled "My Little Home in Tennessee." Carters-1934

Homestead on the Farm: 1909- "I Wonder How The Old Folks Are At Home" by Lambert and Vandersloot. Carter's recorded it twice[/b]: Victor in 1929 and ARC in 1935.

Honey in the Rock: 1895- Gospel song by Frederick A. Graves. Carters-1937

I Ain't Goin' to Work Tomorrow: Early 1900s- Traditional song arranged by The Carter Family. Carters-1928

I Cannot Be Your Sweetheart: 1899 song written by Abbie Ford titled "Under the Pale Moonlight." Carters-1934

I Found You Among the Roses: 1913 song by George Pitman. Carters-1940

I Have an Aged Mother: 1882- Broadside by I.M. Williams titled "Ten Thousand Miles Away" also known as "On The Banks of A Lonely River." Carters-1930

I Have No One to Love Me (But the Sailor on the Deep Blue Sea): 1839- British Ballad "Sweet William." Also known as "Captain Tell me True" and first recorded in 1924 by Gid Tanner as "Sailor Boy." Carters-1928

I Loved You Better Than You Knew: 1893 song by Johnny Carroll. Carters-1933

I Never Loved But One: 1865 song by Armand titled "Those Dark Eyes" also known as "Dark Eyes." Carters-1932

I Never Will Marry: 1864 song "Oh, My Love's Gone" 1906 Belden. Other names are "The Shells of the Ocean" and "Down by the Sea Shore." Carters-1933

I Wouldn't Mind Dying: 1800s Traditional African-American gospel song arranged by The Carter Family. It's also titled "Bye and Bye We're Going To See The King." Carters-1932

If One Won't Another One Will: 1887 Wehman's Collection of Songs; Collected by Belden in 1904- Traditional song also titled "The Lonesome (Stormy) Scenes of Winter" [Laws H12]. Carters-1932

I'll Be All Smiles Tonight: 1879 song by T.B. Ranson. Carters- 1934

*I'll Be Home Someday: Date unknown- Based on an unknown gospel song. Arranged by The Carter Family- 1934

*I'll Never Forsake You: Date unknown- Based on an unknown song. Arranged by The Carter Family- 1940

I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes: 1800s- Traditional song arranged by The Carter Family. Other names include "In the Shadow of the Pines" and "Broken Ties." Carters-1929 also again in 1941.

I'm Working on a Building: Traditional African-American gospel song from Pauline Gray arranged by The Carter Family- 1934

In a Little Village Churchyard: 1918- "In That Dear Old Village Churchyard" from Primitive Baptist Hymn Book and Tune Book compiled by Elder John Daily. Needs confirmation. Another song has the same title "In a Little Village Churchyard- II" which is known as "Mother's Grave." It's from "Since My mother's Dead And Gone" by Phil Mowrey, Harry Percy. Carters-1936

*In the Shadow of Clinch Mountain: Date unknown- Based on an unknown song. Arranged by The Carter Family- 1934

In the Shadow of the Pines: 1895- Song by Hattie Lummis and G.O. Long

*In the Valley of the Shenandoah: Date unknown- Based on an unknown song. Arranged by The Carter Family- 1934

It Is Better Farther On: 1836 one verse; (1877) Trad. Arranged by L. Thompson (1911) Traditional gospel song arranged by The Carter Family. Carters-1938

*It'll Aggravate Your Soul: 1934 song by A.P. Carter based on one verse of traditional lyrics. Carters-1934

*It's a Long Long Road to Travel Alone: 1931 words and music by BAD [pseud of Mrs. WH Do France]. Arranged by Maybelle Carter. Needs confirmation. Carters-1940

Jealous Hearted Me: 1924- Based on traditional blues lyrics by Lovie Austin, "Jealous Hearted Blues" recorded by Ma Rainey. Arranged by The Carter Family from Leslie Riddle. Carters-1936

Jim Blake's Message: Circa 1909, 1910 issue of "Railroad Man's Magazine" Rewritten by Carson Robison with Peter Condon- lyrics in 1927. Carters-1937

Jimmie Brown, the Newsboy: 1875 song by William Shakespeare Hays "Jimmie Brown (The Paper Boy)". Carters-1929

*Jimmie Rodgers Visits the Carter Family: 1931- Song-and-spoken-word skit by The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers- 1931

John Hardy Was a Desperate Little Man: Late 1800s- Traditional song arranged by the Carter Family. Carters-1928

Just a Few More Days: 1922- Traditional hymn from Hymns of Praise[/b]: For the Church and Sunday School by F. G. Kingsbury -Hymns, English page 15. Needs confirmation. Carters-1938

Just Another Broken Heart: 1890s- Carter's arrangement of the folk song usually known as "Only Flirting," "Only a Broken Heart" or "She was Only Flirting." Carters-1936

Keep on the Firing Line: 1915- Southern gospel song by Bessie F. Hatcher. Sara said it was a hymn she heard in California, at Charlie and Mary Bayes's Adventist church. Carters-1941

Keep on the Sunny Side: 1899- Gospel song by Ada Blenkhorn and J Howard Entwisle. A.P. Learned the song from Flanders Bays, his uncle. Carters 1935

*Kissing Is a Crime: 1800s- Date unknown- Based on an unknown song. It resembles the Scottish song "Some Say that Kissing's a Sin" published in 1829. Carters 1935

Kitty Waltz: 1872 music; lyrics 1926 Al Hopkins- arranged by the Carter Family. Carters 1929

Last Move for Me: Circa 1926- Gospel song by Herbert Buffum (1879-1939) "When I make My Last Move" Carters 1936

Lay My Head Beneath the Rose: 1879 by Ned Straight; 1897 Madison and Faulkenstein. Carters 1936

Let the Church Roll On: 1800s-Traditional African-American gospel song from Leslie Riddle/Pauline Gray arranged by The Carter Family. Carters 1931

Let's Be Lovers Again: 1893 song by Gussie Davis titled, "Jack and May (Make Up and Be Lover's Again)." Carters-1935

Little Black Train: Late 1800s (Cohen)- Traditional gospel song arranged by the Carter Family Carters 1935 and 1937

Little Darlin' Pal of Mine: Early 1900s- Traditional lyrics melody is the spiritual "When The World's On Fire." It's also titled "Little Sweetheart Pal Of Mine" or "My Little Girl." Carters 1928 and 1935.

*Little Girl That Played On My Knee, The: Late 1800s Unknown (1937 by Carters)- Based on an unknown parlor song. In the repertoire of Jennie Devlin (1865-1952) as "The Little Valley" which combines this song with a version of "Red River Valley."

Little Joe: 1866- by V. E. Marsten "Death of Little Joe"; "Little Joe" was recorded by the Carters in 1938. First recording was "Darling Little Joe" in 1934.

Little Log Cabin by the Sea: 1903- song by W.C. Hapley titled "Bible in the Cabin by the Sea" Carters- 1927

Little Log Hut in the Lane: 1879- Thomas Westendorf (Going From De Cottonfields) usally titled, "I'm Going From the Cottonfields." Carters- 1930

Little Moses: circa 1871- traditional gospel ballad about story of Moses harmonized by G.R. Street. Collected by Belden 1905. Carters- 1929

*Little Poplar Log House on the Hill: 1930s (may be based on earlier song)- Callahan Brothers on August 16, 1934. The Carter Family recorded their version 6 years later. Carters- 1940

Lonesome for You: 1918- song "I Know What It Means To Be Lonesome" by Brockman and Vincent (words) and Kendis (music). Carters- 1931

*Lonesome for You Darling: 1940- Unknown song; Carters- 1940

*Lonesome Homesick Blues: circa 1941- written by Maybelle Carter. According to the Carters biography she wrote the song when she was missing Eck, her husband. She also used a blues lick learned from Leslie Riddle. Carters- 1941

*Lonesome Pine Special: circa 1930- Railroad song attributed to Sara Carter by Janette Carter in a talk to a music class at Warren Wilson College. Janette is the daughter of Sara and A.P. Carter. Carters- 1930

Lonesome Valley: 1800s- Traditional spiritual from both white and black sources. The song was probably from Leslie Riddle but popular versions by both Dalhart and Jenkins had been circulating. Carters- 1930 and again in 1935

Longing for Old Virginia: 1915- E. Clinton Keithley song "I'm Longing for Old Virginia and You." Carters-1934

Look Away from the Cross: 1895 (1901 by Meade)- F.L. Eiland gospel song "From the Cross To The Crown." Professor F.L. Eiland, was a noted hymn writer whose "Hold to God's Unchanging Hands" became widely used in American churches. Carters-1940

Look How This World Has Made a Change: 1800s- Traditional spiritual arranged by J.B Vaughan in 1912 and recorded by the famous Vaughan Quartet in 1928. Carters-1937

Lord, I'm in Your Care: Early 1900s- Traditional spiritual and is sometimes titled "Oh Lord, I'm in your Care." It was recorded first by Edward Clayborn in 1927. Carters-1937

Lover's Farewell; 1849- "Thou Hast Learned to Love Another" or "Farewell, farewell, Forever" by Charles Slade. "We Have Met and We Have Parted" which is dated by Meade as circa 1870s. Carters-1930

*Lover's Lane: Unknown c 1900- "Lover's Lane" was apparently the first title for the song "You're The Girl of My Dreams." The song could be a rewrite of "Down de Lover's Lane" by Will Marion Cook c 1900. Not Confirmed. Carters-1937

Lover's Return:1800s- Traditional folk song usually called "Too Late" or "Too Late You Have to Come Back to Me." Carters-1934

Lulu Walls: 1800s (Jan. 1888 Meade); Wehman's Collection of Songs. Unknown author from 1800s. Carters-1929 and 1935


There are 141 titles for the original Carter Family songs from A-L. One song "Darling Little Joe" is also titled "Little Joe." There are two versions of "Bury Me Beneath the Weeping Willow (Answer to Weeping Willow)" and two versions of "East Virginia Blues." Technically there are 137 different songs in the A-L titles. Some of the songs were recorded more than once by different record companies.

There are 34 songs with an asterisk indicating they are either original or we haven't found the source.

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