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Spirit & Heritage In Song – ‘Cumberland Gap’ – Late 1800’s

 

Spirit & Heritage In Song is a series highlighting Traditional American Music.

In the last half century many of these traditional songs have been forgotten in a flood of contemporary music and international cultural influences. Yet these songs, ballads, melodies and hymns reflect the events, cultural backgrounds, aspirations, land and faith that make up the soul of the American People far more than the strains of moderne music that have washed upon the nation’s shores. This series is offered as a reminder of the Spirit of America as given voice in song.

 

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Cumberland Gap


Cumberland Gap is an American folk song that has emerged from the land and experiences of the people of the Cumberland Gap Region of the Appalachian Mountians where Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia meet. Various versions have been written as can be heard in the music videos below. The lyrics give life to the features of the mountains, wildlife, weather, tales of hunting parties and Civil War Battles. The song reflects the Scot-Irish and English peoples, the first Europeans that inhabitated the region. “In style of performance, genre, and instrument selection, the Cumberland music strongly exhibits roots in the Borderland from whence its people came.” Read more at ‘Music in the Cumberland Gap Region’

 

“Cumberland Gap” is an Appalachian folk song that likely dates to the latter half of the 19th century and was first recorded in 1924. The song is typically played on banjo or fiddle, and well-known versions of the song include instrumental versions as well as versions with lyrics. A version of the song appeared in the 1934 book, American Ballads and Folk Songs, by folk song collector John Lomax. Woody Guthrie recorded a version of the song at his Folkways sessions in the mid-1940s, and the song saw a resurgence in popularity with the rise of bluegrass and the American folk music revival in the 1950s. In 1957, British musician Lonnie Donegan had a Top 10 hit with a skiffle version of “Cumberland Gap”.

The song’s title refers to the Cumberland Gap, a mountain pass in the Appalachian Mountains at the juncture of the states of Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky. The gap was used in the latter half of the 18th century by westward-bound migrants travelling from the original 13 American colonies to the Trans-Appalachian frontier. During the U.S. Civil War (1861–1865), Union and Confederate armies engaged in a year-long back-and-forth struggle for control of the gap. Read more at Wikipedia

 

Read more about the Cumberland Gap

  • Cumberland Gap
  • Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
  • The Cumberland Gap, the Notch America Squeezed Through – The New York Times
  • Civil War Battles of Cumberland Gap
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    Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers through the Cumberland Gap (George Caleb Bingham, oil on canvas, 1851–52)

     


    Cumberland Gap – Frank Proffitt

     


    Cumberland Gap – Mike Seeger

     


    Cumberland Gap – Frank Fairfield

     


    Cumberland Gap – Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs

     


    Cumberland Gap – The 2nd South Carolina

     


    See other songs of the American Spirit in History and Music

     

    Lyrics

    Me and my wife and my wife’s pap,
    we’re all going down to Cumberland Gap
    Me and my wife and my wife’s pap,
    we’re all going down to Cumberland Gap

    Chorus:
    Cumberland Gap, Cumberland Gap.
    Hey! Way down yonder in Cumberland Gap.

    Cumberland Gap with its cliffs and rocks
    Home of the panther, bear and fox.
    Cumberland Gap with its cliffs and rocks
    Home of the panther, bear and fox.

    Cumberland Gap is a mighty fine place,
    three kinds of water to wash your face.
    Cumberland Gap is a mighty fine place,
    three kinds of water to wash your face.

    Lay down boys and take a little nap,
    fourteen miles to Cumberland Gap.
    Lay down boys and take a little nap,
    fourteen miles to Cumberland Gap.

     

    Other Version

    Lay down, boys, and take a little nap
    We’re all going down to Cumberland Gap

    Refrain:Cumberland Gap, Cumberland Gap
    We’re all going down to Cumberland Gap

    Cumberland Gap’s a devil of a place
    Couldn’t find water to wash my face…

    Pretty little girl if you don’t care
    I’ll leave my demijohn a sittin’ right there…

    If it ain’t here when I get back
    I’ll raise hell in Cumberland Gap…

    Me an’ my wife an’ my wife’s pap
    Walked all the way from Cumberland Gap…

    Lay down, boys, and take a little nap
    Snow knee-deep in Cumberland Gap…

    Cumberland Gap ain’t my home
    I’m going to leave Cumberland alone…

    Lay down, boys, and take a little rest
    We’ll all wake up in a whippoorwill’s nest…

    Save up some money and buy me a farm
    Raise sweet ‘taters as long as your arm…

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Plow & Hearth

     

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