Take Me with You to the Mountains

Pig with scroll

Our Story Song Series continues with a tale of two friends on an odyssey to Appalachia. I heard this “Take Me with You to the Mountains” back in the 90’s on Wayne Erbsen’s “Country Roots” radio show (WCQS, Asheville). It was performed by an artist that I don’t know. I’m sure Wayne identified him right before the song played, but I missed that part.

I remember that his voice was comparable to that of David Holt, but it wasn’t Holt. I remember the accompaniment was a classical style guitar played finger style.

It wasn’t until now that I learned that the most popular version of this song is by Del McCoury (…​).

People familiar with the song may notice that I have changed the chord pattern from Del’s version. I take the song “around the horn” through A major in the verses and chorus before going to D major (whereas Del goes straight to D from G).

I believe the version that I heard in the 90’s also went to the 4th chord (A major).

I took out the B7 before E minor that Del uses. I believe the B7 was also in the version I heard on Wayne’s show. I took it out because I think the song has a more serious feel by going straight from G major to E minor. However, I acknowledge that the B7 to E minor change makes the song more original.

In the introduction to this song in a live McCoury version, Del says it was written by Don Humphreys of Asheville, NC. That makes two songs in a row in our series written by Asheville writers. Ironic! It also makes two songs in a row where a character dies.

To make up for doing sad story songs, I linked to a great version of Strawberry Roan performed superbly by String Surfin. Click on the little “i” in the upper right corner of my video or go here. Eventually, we’ll do some happier story songs in our series.

I think “Take Me with You to the Mountains” speaks to satisfaction of choosing one’s own terms when it’s time to leave this world.

I spent a lot of time with Pap in the Asheville VA Hospital, where we were always treated very well. I changed a few lyrics so the song doesn’t seem to disparage VA hospitals or the city of Houston (where I was also treated very well).

I dedicate this song to veterans and to Appalachians living away from Appalachia.

I wonder if the unidentified singer that I heard on Country Roots might have been Humphreys himself…

I took the repeating, falling notes (G, Gflat, E, D) from that version. There’s no sign of that note progression in Del’s version.

In the first upload, I mentioned that story songs are a lost art in music. As an educator, I feel that reading/discussion of stories is becoming a lost art in our English classes. For the first 80% or so of my teaching career, we read, analyzed, and discussed a lot of stories (short stories, novels, plays, etc.). We also wrote a lot of stories, poems, plays, etc.

Around the time that I transitioned to administration, informational text was beginning to take on much more emphasis. Today, informational text seems to comprise 40-60% of the passages/questions on the standardized tests that students must take at the end of each year. Teachers must prepare students for these tests, so that means that far more class time is devoted to informational text, and less is devoted to literature.

This is largely because curriculum is decided by legislators. Most legislators come from a business/lawyer background. They are NOT interested in students learning to appreciate, for instance, a deep metaphor. They want solid return on taxpayer investment, so they’re interested in schools cranking out good employees ready to go to work with less training from the employer. I understand that reasoning, but it’s sad that so much enjoyment of fiction/narrative must be forsaken. Stories teach and preserve history, and deep meaning. Sometimes I wonder if the emphasis on informational text will grow to the point where students will graduate from high school without knowing who Shakespeare was. We’ll do our part with this story song series to help keep good stories alive!


You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    March 15, 2021 at 11:09 am

    Paul, I totally agree with your remarks on education. As a retired teacher, by the time I retired, I felt students knew less and less and were growing lazier and lazier. In Virginia, the focus is on the SOL tests at the end of the school year. They are minimum competency tests, and since I taught Latin, I didn’t have to administer one. They’re in the the core subjects and start in elementary school, which is ridiculous. I did enjoy the song.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2021 at 1:51 pm

    You know if you read some of my comments and the way I leave out words you would think I never went to school. I may upset some people by this but I sometimes think it would be better if schools would teach students that know they are not going to college a trade or skill in the last two years of high school rather than more english, history, science etc. They do have schools in SC that are called career centers for juniors and seniors, most are two year courses but they only spend a couple of hours a day there.

    • Reply
      March 15, 2021 at 11:03 am

      As a retired teacher, I totally agree with you. I taught too many students who were not college material, but guidance counselors were pushing them toward college.

  • Reply
    Ray Presley
    March 14, 2021 at 11:55 am

    Thoroughly enjoyed the videos today, Paul and “Take Me to the Mountain” and Paul with his very talented nieces doing “Gentle on My Mind. Hearing that little tenor guitar was also very entertaining. Dave Rawlings is the only other performer I’ve noticed playing it. On the subject of testing for students, I also feel strongly that more emphasis should be placed on the literature aspect of teaching/testing. The psychometrics for music and poetry subjects is probably very difficult for most of us, educators as well as students, but we need to preserve and promote our culture and include testing that forces students to think rather than to give the more “precise”, scientific answer. Otherwise, we tend to lose sight and the feel of our roots and to become more like robots.. I applaud Paul and the Blind Pig family for storytelling and education through music.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2021 at 11:52 am

    Education certainly has changed. Your question of graduates not not knowing Shakespeare is very accurate. Many times in the last 30 or so years I have said kids are getting a high school diploma with only a forth grade education. I taught college classes in 2006 and 2007 with students that turned in essays that had horrible grammar and punctuation mistakes.

  • Reply
    Patricia Price
    March 14, 2021 at 9:34 am

    “Amen” about education. My family were, for the most part, farmers, mechanics, and other kinds of laborers. But reading and story-telling were what made us, “us.” Much of our daily language comes from Shakespeare. What is that old saying? If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it? If teachers have to “teach to tests” only, then where is the joy for both the students and the teachers? Sorry to rant! Enjoyed this post, both the thoughts and the music. Lots to think about.

  • Reply
    Donna W
    March 14, 2021 at 9:27 am

    The school teachers working in our little town have plenty to say about what’s happening with our schools; I think the smaller schools are being left farther behind than the big schools. Children’s education should be a priority in our country’s budget, but it doesn’t ever seem to get any better. Politicians would rather give themselves a huge raise than help educate our kids.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    March 14, 2021 at 8:31 am

    Your Granny’s introduction is so sweet and fitting.

    I understand very well that desire to find your own place to leave from. I have a way I hope for but I don’t know the place yet. I know a lot of places that are not it. I sure don’t want to die in bed but I don’t what to cause folks trouble either. Best left to the Lord I’m sure.

    Paul, I think all of us see more changes in our lifetimes than we can can get either our heads or our hearts around. I doubt if there is a true reconciliation between our beginnings and our endings in this world. The song hints at it, especially the “take me back”. In some ways, we seem to work full circle. Anyway, I’ve been told I think too much and I expect it is partly true.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2021 at 8:19 am

    Paul, you may as well be speaking Greek to me when talking about the different cords in your song. All I know about music is it either sounds good or it don’t and yours sounds good. I was interested in your comments about schools and today’s education. I graduated high school 49 years ago and my children can not understand how I am able to do simple math; add & subtract, divide, multiply and fractions in my head. I tell them we not allowed to have calculators in school we had to work it out on paper. I read an editorial by a school administrator that said it was not necessary for children to be as smart now as in the past, they could look things up on their smart phones. I know this is not exactly the same thing you were writing about but it has bothered ever since reading it.

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    March 14, 2021 at 8:10 am

    Oops! An extra S slipped in there – it’s supposed to read “AS big as a dinner plate!” I suppose spell-check didn’t account for context!

    • Reply
      March 14, 2021 at 1:58 pm

      Sharon, I got a laugh out your description of the headlight, over my life I have often heard this description used to describe things. There is a company that makes industrial size ceiling fans ( 10-12 ft. blades) that goes by that name.A donkey is their trademark symbol.

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    March 14, 2021 at 8:07 am

    You mentioned David Holt. I love his High Windy stories. When my daughter was little and it was time to head further south to visit kin, that was one of the must- have cassettes to play on our journey. I can still hear his animated voice and banjo punctuations telling about The Hairy Man, his aunt whose face looked like a crumpled up paper bag, good dogs like Barney McCabe and Sue-Boy, up-to-no-good witches, a motorcycle with a headlight as big ass a dinner plate,and on and on. My favorite was his story-telling song “Old Groundhog.” A master storyteller in word and song.
    As an educator myself, I agree with your assessment of today’s state of affairs regarding literature. As for Shakespeare, looks like cancel culture will try to remove that from the curriculum. Lord, help us.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 14, 2021 at 7:46 am

    Yes, take me with you to the mountain. Good job, Paul. I love the mountains as I know you do and I also know that education is being removed from our schools and replaced with…I’m not sure what. It seems like more of an indoctrination.
    Paul, I always appreciate your comments, you always seem to have a clear perspective of things as well as a tune to go along with it!

  • Leave a Reply