“In the Pines”


Usually about a man whose girl has left him (on a train) (to meet another) ("in the pines, in the pines, where the sun never shines, And I shivered the whole night through"). The girl, who rides the "longest train I ever saw," may die in a wreck


This song became the basis of "Blue Diamond Mines" in the 1970s. -PJS

The elements in this song may vary widely, and it is best recognized by its form and the references to the pines. The plot described above is common but by no means universal.

Cohen briefly summarizes Judith McCulloh's Ph.D. dissertation ("In the Pines": The Melodic-Textual Identity of an American Lyric Folksong Cluster), which analyses over 150 texts she identified with this song. She seems to have identified three common textual motifs: "In the pines, in the pines, where the sun never shines" (118 texts), "The longest train I ever saw" (96 versions), and "(His/her) head was (found) on the driver's wheel, (His/her) body never was found." There is also a fairly characteristic tune. Still, the boundaries of this type are very vague; long versions almost always include very many floating verses and have no overall plot except perhaps a feeling of loneliness. - RBW

The Marlow & Young [Burnett & Rutherford] recording is a conglomerate of floating verses; I put it here because the one that floated from this song came first, but it could as easily go under, "Goodnight, Irene" -- it has the "Sometimes I live in the country" verse. - PJS

Cross references

  • cf. "Long Lonesome Road" (lyrics)


  • Gerald Duncan et al, "In the Pines" (on MusOzarks01)
  • Roscoe Holcomb, "In the Pines" (on Holcomb1, HolcombCD1)
  • Bascom Lamar Lunsford, "To the Pines, to the Pines" (on BLLunsford01)
  • Marlow & Young [pseud. for Burnett & Rutherford] "Let Her Go, I'll Meet Her" (Champion 15691, 1929; on KMM)
  • Clayton McMichen's Wildcats, "In the Pines" (Decca 5448, 1937)
  • Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys, "In The Pines" (Bluebird B-8861, 1941); (Decca 28416, 1952)
  • Riley Puckett, "The Longest Train I Ever Saw" (Decca 5523, 1938) (Bluebird B-8104, 1939)
  • Lou Ella Robertson, "In the Pines" (Capitol 1706, 1951)
  • Texas Jim Robertson & the Panhandle Pushers, "In the Pines" (RCA Victor 20-2907, 1948)
  • Arthur Smith & his Dixieliners [or Arthur Smith Trio], "In the Pines" (Bluebird B-7943/Montomery Ward M-7686, 1938)
  • Pete Seeger, "Black Girl" (on PeteSeeger18) (on PeteSeeger43)
  • Tenneva Ramblers, "The Longest Train I Ever Saw" (Victor 20861, 1927)
  • Dock Walsh, "In the Pines" (Columbia 15094-D, 1926)
  • Ephraim Woodie & the Henpecked Husbands, "Last Gold Dollar" (Columbia 15564-D, 1930) [Filed here by Paul Stamler despite the title - RBW]


  1. Cohen-LSRail, pp. 491-502, "The Longest Train/In the Pines" (3 texts containing many floating verses, 1 tune)
  2. BrownIII 283, "In the Pines" (2 text plus a fragment; the "A" text, though very full, is damaged and probably mixed; the "B" text is mostly floating verses; "C" is only three lines, and may not belong here); also 297, "You Caused Me to Lose My Mind" (1 fragment, mostly of floating lyrics but with hints it goes here); also 301, "High-Topped Shoes" (2 texts, both mixed; "A" is mostly "Pretty Little Foot" with verses from "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down" while "B" is a hash of "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down," ""More Pretty Girls Than One," "In the Pines," and others)
  3. SharpAp 203, "Black Girl" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Lomax-FSNA 290, "The Longest Train" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. MHenry-Appalachians, p. 231, (fifth of several "Fragments from Tennessee") (1 fragment, which might be this although it's too short to know)
  6. PSeeger-AFB, p. 28, "Little Girl" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Silber-FSWB, p. 103 "In The Pines" (1 text)
  9. Roud #3421
  10. BI, LoF290


Alternate titles: “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1922 (Brown)
Found in: US(Ap,SE,So)