Appalachia Music

You Gotta Walk That Lonesome Valley

My favorite song at the moment is an old traditional song The Lonesome Valley. The Blind Pig gang has been jamming on the song for the last few months. Pap or Paul one remembered it, and decided we should try it. As is true for many old traditional songs, the verses are numerous and vary by whoever is performing it.

The Songs We Sang: Favorite American Folksongs has this to say about the old song:

“In this traditional African-American spiritual, the lonesome valley very well may be the valley of the shadow of death referred to in Psalm 23, Verse 4: “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” The valley in the Dawson version seems to be a river valley of the River Jordan which figures significantly in the Old Testament. A gospel version was titled “Jesus Walked That Lonesome Valley.” Elvis Presley recorded the gospel version, as did Andy Griffith. Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie sang it together. Many alternative versions of the lyrics exist, including a cowboy outlaw version called “The Reverend Mr. Black,” which was recorded by Johnny Cash.”

If you give the song a google you’ll come up with quite a few differing verses. We don’t sing the River of Jordan vs. mentioned above-I guess the ones we use are the verses Pap remembers from his youth.

Along with Presley, Seeger, and Griffith; George Jones, The Carter Family, The Monroe Brothers, and other well known artists also recorded The Lonesome Valley. Of course I’m kinda partial to our version-check it out and see if you like it as much as I do.

I love Pap’s look at the end of the song-and although the video didn’t catch what he said-you can see it on his face. He said “By ned we got it that time.”

I’m fascinated by old traditional songs that stand the test of time. I absolutely love thinking about how all those different verses came about. How maybe a traveler heard the song-liked the song-but when he got back home couldn’t remember exactly how it went so he adjusted the words-or maybe he loved the tune but wanted different words. Who knows? But I love it when we do a song that is over a 100 years old and still make it sound fresh.



You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    April 24, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Never heard that one before.
    Love it!
    I agree that you should hire the teenage videographer.

  • Reply
    April 20, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Jennifer-it has my vote for the next cd : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    April 20, 2011 at 9:30 am

    LOVE THIS! Thank you for posting; “by Ned…” that was so cute! Will this be on an upcoming Pap album? 😉

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    April 19, 2011 at 11:04 am

    It just don’t get any better than that!

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    April 18, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Good bass work, Tipper. Great rendition by your group.
    The Fairfield Four do good rendition of “You Gotta Walk That Lonesome Valley”, as heard in the failed hanging scene in the 2000 movie, “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou”

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    April 18, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I still have the Kingston Trio version of Reverend Mr Black. They were one of my favorite groups.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    That video was wonderful! Your family has such awesome musical talent. Thanks for sharing it Tipper!

  • Reply
    Joey @ Big Teeth & Clouds
    April 17, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    I like to imagine you all doing this all of the time. It’s very comforting (by Ned).

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    April 17, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    tipper that song today made my heart happy 🙂
    i love those kinds of songs.. where you praise the Lord and give your soul a lift.. thank you so much and as always… much love and hugs to you and yours always
    big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    roger hartley
    April 17, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    fantastic song!

  • Reply
    April 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    By Ned, Pap was right on target! I loved hearing this old song. Well done, well done!!!

  • Reply
    Barb Johnson
    April 17, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I love these old spirituals. We just had a great hymn sing last night~refreshes the soul:)

  • Reply
    April 17, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Chokes me up, literally, somewhat likened to a good tent revival. Thanks for posting it.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Very nice. This one is a winner for sure.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    That was Beautifully done and yes
    I could hear your ‘Johnny Cash’ bass and Guitar man in the back-
    ground. I’ve been wondering if
    you all had any new videos lately,
    and you all did a super job on this one too. Thanks…Ken

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    April 17, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Great rendition of that old time favorite. You got to love that look and expression of satisfaction from Pap. The hand on the cheek did it for me.

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    April 17, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Tipper: reminds me of Walker Valley WA. my dear mother was born there, none of her family live there anymore, they are all gone to their reward. when i drive through the old homestead only memories live there,truly a lonesome valley. happy times to all. k.o.h

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    April 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    This is good singing–you know it?Have a blessed weekend!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 17, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Yes. by ned, I think Pap is correct…they got it that time. Beautiful job.
    I can remember hearing that song all of my life, in one version or another. We live in such a “use it and throw it away time” it is heartening to have some traditional things to hang on to in order not to be washed away in the flood and frenzy!

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    April 17, 2011 at 11:22 am

    by Ned they did! great harmony and that’s one of my favorites, too. I could sit for hours listening and singing like that. I don’t play an instrument –my main talent is an ‘appreciator’ and boy do I! What fun you must have.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    April 17, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Tipper–Might fine, and Jerry and Paul do a grand song full justice. By ned, they did indeed nail it! I love the harmony and the pickin’. You mention Johnny Cash’s “Reverend Mr. Black,” and I thoroughly enjoy that version as well. It is well-suited to Cash’s deep, sonorous, voice, one which resounds with loneliness.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    April 17, 2011 at 11:19 am

    “By ned” I agree they did. Ya’ll are so good. Such good family harmony. Would like to a video of all of ya’ll picking and singing. You are blessed to have a close family.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2011 at 11:19 am

    I loved the song! I guess Pap was right; You all did get it right!

  • Reply
    April 17, 2011 at 11:03 am

    its great and they did get it, by ned. i had forgotten the old by ned saying, heard that a lot. amazing how the songs continue and i think you are right about they get home and can’t remember and make it up.

  • Leave a Reply