Log Cabin Songs © 2012 by Wayne Erbsen

I have a thing for log cabins. Always have. To me, they symbolize almost everything I’m trying to say when I play old-time mountain and bluegrass music. In fact, that’s why I named the band of students I work with the “Log Cabin Band.” 

Log cabins have long been a symbol of frontier America. Their sturdy construction of hand hewn logs are a true representation of the tough and independent pioneers who built them.

One of the strongest and most enduring themes of traditional bluegrass music has been the lost son who wanders back to the old log cabin on the hill. The lantern light shining through the window beckons him back to his old home. Unfortunately, by the time he gets there, his parents are long dead and gone and “the fields have turned brown,” as Carter Stanley so poignantly wrote.

These gut-wrenching log cabin songs appeal to those who have a soft, sentimental spot in their hearts. In country music, they’re often called “tear jerkers.” In bluegrass music, I prefer to just call them “log cabin songs.”

To illustrate the extent to which bluegrass music embraces log cabin songs, here is a list of all the log cabin songs I can think of that have been played in bluegrass and old-time music.

 

An Old Log Cabin For Sale
Blue Ridge Mountain Home
Blue Ridge Cabin Home
By the Side of the Road
Cabin in the Valley of the Pines
Cabin on the Hill
Cabin on a Mountain
Cabin of Love
Cabin in Caroline
Cabin Creek
Cabin in the Corner of Gloryland
Dreaming of a Little Cabin
Hard Times Come Around No More
I Long to See the Old Folks
I’m On My Way Back to the Old Home
In My Dear Old Southern Home
Katie Cline
Lamplighting Time in the Valley
Little Cabin Home on the Hill
Little Log Cabin in the Lane
Little Log Cabin by the Sea
Little Whitewashed Chimney
Lonesome Pine Special
Love of the Mountains
Mansion on the Hill
My Old Cottage Home
My Rose of Old Kentucky
Nellie Kane
Nobody Answered Me
Rose of Old Kentucky
Side of the Road
There’s a Little Pine Long Cabin
Walkin’ Round My Cabin Door
Where No Cabins Fall
When the Roses Bloom in Dixieland
White Dove

Putting my money where my mouth is, my wife and I own an authentic 1880s authentic log cabin in the deep mountains of Madison County, North Carolina. Following the road that hugs Big Pine Creek, it takes about an hour to get there from our home in Asheville, North Carolina. The cabin is totally off the grid, but we use kerosene lanterns and a wood cookstove for our weekend getaway. (See photo, above). Beyond a doubt, it’s the perfect place to sing log cabin songs.

log-cabin-pioneersWayne Erbsen has written extensively about log cabins in his book, Log Cabin Pioneers and has recorded a CD called “Log Cabin Songs.” Wayne has been teaching banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin since dinosaurs roamed the earth (really about fifty years). He has written thirty songbooks and instructions books for banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin. Check out the Native Ground Books & Music web site, or email or call for a FREE catalog: (828)299-7031 or banjo[at]nativeground.com

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