Friday Five: Tree Songs

Juli Thanki | April 9th, 2010

The very first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska on April 10, 1872. So let’s pay tribute with a selection of classic country songs in which trees serve as an important part of the scenery. Not a fan of the classics? Then check out BR549’s “Tangled in the Pines,” Those Poor Bastards’ “Among the Pines,” Tom Russell’s “Joshua Tree” (a tribute to Gram Parsons), or Loretta Lynn’s 2004 song “Family Tree.”

  • 5. “The Family Tree Musta Fell On Me” – Wayne Raney

    On this goofy song Raney looks around at his attractive family and reasons “I’m so doggone ugly, you see/The family tree musta fell on me.” It also turns out that his parents named him “You-gly” and he later gets mistaken for a clown at the circus. Therapy might not have been all the rage when this song was recorded in 1950, but if anyone needed it, it was You-gly.

  • Johnny Horton - 16 Biggest Hits4. “Whispering Pines” – Johnny Horton

    Poor Johnny Horton. His darlin’ is gone and he asks the pines for some help getting his girl back, or at least a little sympathy. Does he get it? Of course not. Instead he has to watch a pair of squirrels (whom Horton—either projecting or descending into insanity—has decided are blissfully in love with one another) frolic around the trees.

  • Honky Tonk Rockabillies, Volume 13. “Tall Tall Trees” – George Jones

    The Possum loves you so much, he’s gonna buy you some trees. No word on how he’s going to transport them, though. Maybe in that big limousine. Jones co-wrote this with Roger Miller and both put it on their own albums, but it wasn’t released as a single until Alan Jackson recorded it (and subsequently topped the charts with it) several decades later.

  • Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs2. “The Hanging Tree” – Marty Robbins

    Robbins recorded this song for a movie of the same name (starring Gary Cooper, George C. Scott, and Karl Malden). The song’s much more upbeat than the title would suggest, as the hanging tree becomes “a tree of life…hope…[and] love.”

  • The Very Best Of Bill Monroe And His Blue Grass Boys1. “In The Pines” – Bill Monroe And The Bluegrass Bo

    Love, trains, the occasional decapitation…what more do you need from a song? Nineteenth century folksong “In the Pines,” aka “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” aka “Black Girl” has been recorded by Lead Belly, Link Wray, the Louvin Brothers, and many other artists whose names don’t begin with “L.” This one’s a classic no matter what title it’s recorded under or who sings it, but I must admit that my favorite version of the song is the first one I heard: Nirvana’s version of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” on their 1993 MTV Unplugged special, if only because I wasn’t allowed to watch MTV. Contraband music is the best kind.

  1. PaulaW
    April 9, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Whisperin’ Pines has always been a favorite of mine. Love me some Johnny Horton. ♥♫

  2. Ben Milam
    April 9, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    east texas pines by sunny sweeney

  3. Bob
    April 9, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Lisa Brokop’s “November Trees”, written by Lisa and Jeff Ross, from her 2008 cd “Beautiful Tragedy”:

    CHORUS- You stripped me down to shakin’
    Now my soul is naked
    I feel like I’m about to freeze
    Crackin’ under pressure
    Beaten from the weather
    Cryin’ like November trees

    Suzy Bogguss’ “Family Tree”, written by Doug Crider and Matt Rollings, from her 1998 cd “Nobody Love, Nobody Gets Hurt”:

    There was a maple tree in our front yard
    When I was growin’ up, I’d climb up to the top
    And watch my brother trading baseball cards
    My Daddy pulling weeds, mother’s callin’ me
    I was hiding in the leaves

    And the world looked fine as far as I could see
    From the top of the family tree
    A hundred branches growing ’round me
    Way up there in the family tree

  4. Noeller
    April 9, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Good call on Lisa’s November Trees – GREAT song!! I’m excited to hear some of the new duo material she’s producing with her husband as “The Jeffersons” – should be great!!

  5. Rick
    April 9, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Dave Cox laments his soon to be ex-wife is “Cutting Down Our Family Tree” from his fine “Song Stylings Of Dave Cox” album.

    I’d say Joey+Rory’s “Heart Of The Wood” qualifies for inclusion here as well.

    The old Sons of the Pioneers song “Timber Trail” also comes to mind (and especially the cover by The Sons of the San Joaquin). And maybe even Patty Loveless’ “Timber I’m Falling In Love” if we really stretch the concept a ways…

  6. Steve M.
    April 9, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    I have always loved The Screaming Trees, but that is the wrong genre.

  7. Bob
    April 9, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Noeller, I saw Lisa twice last year at the Bluebird Cafe, the second time with hubby Paul Jefferson. They were great. I have all 7 of Lisa’s cds and can’t understand why she hasn’t had more success. I call her Canada’s best kept secret. Lisa’s not only a great singer, she has co-written almost all of the songs on her last 4 cds.

  8. Mayor JoBob
    April 9, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Wade Hayes and Darryl Worley have their own “Family Tree” songs. Love Both.

    And yes, the Screaming Trees are awesome.

  9. highwayman3
    April 10, 2010 at 12:12 am

    I dont know if it’s the same, but I love Keith Whitleys ‘Family Tree’ and also I will add Joe Nichol’s ‘The Shade’

  10. numberonecountryfan
    April 10, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Carolina In The Pines by Michael Martin Murphey, anyone?

  11. Mayor JoBob
    April 10, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    How could I forget Paul Brandt’s heart wrenching “The Sycamore Tree” from his 1999 album ‘That’s The Truth’. That is the best tree song in my opinion!

  12. Greg
    April 10, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    I don’t think it’s the greatest song every written about trees, but when the song came out I couldn’t get enough of it….Pam Tillis Shake The Sugar Tree

  13. klark
    April 11, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    I submit Lemon Tree by Fools Garden. This is not a country song but I find this one quirky.

    I wonder how, I wonder why, yesterday you told me bout the blue blue sky
    Then all that I can see is just a yellow lemon tree
    I’m turning my head up and down
    I’m turning turning turning turning around
    and all that I can see is just a yellow lemon tree

  14. Paul W Dennis
    April 12, 2010 at 3:36 am

    I was always partial to a Clint Eastwood song from the movie PAINT YOUR WAGON – “I Talk To The Trees”

  15. Confessor
    April 12, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    I’m partial to Rachel Proctor’s “Strong as the Oak” from her debut album, a tragic song about a woman who refuses to love her husband even after he buys a tree for her.

  16. WES
    May 14, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Check out ‘Los Angeles band Whispering Pines…their new album “Family Tree” the title track is one of the best TREE songs around!

Tagged In This Article

// // // // // // // // // // // //

Current Discussion

  • Paige: Oh damn. :( I never commented here and I haven't been listening to any music at all since Thanksgiving (it …
  • Dave W.: Just read the news here. Will miss E145 very much - love this site. All the best to you Juli …
  • Leeann Ward: Oh, dang! This is real. Farewell to the most generous, informative, quality, intelligent, consistent, ethical country music blog! You …
  • bll: Thanks Juli for all the great articles and information; you'll be missed by me and I suss several others. Best …
  • Both Kinds of Music: I hope people appreciate the irony that one of the best "Americana" albums is titled Metamodern Sounds in COUNTRY Music.
  • Barry Mazor: I would not rule out that possibility..There's a different set of voters involved..
  • Dana M: Does anyone else think that Brandy Clark actually has a good chance of winning since this isn't a country awards …
  • Juli Thanki: UPDATE: Brandy Clark got a Best New Artist nom. BEST AMERICANA ALBUM: Rosanne Cash -- The River & The Thread John Hiatt -- Terms …
  • luckyoldsun: Glenn Campbell is great and I'd love to see him get an award, but the words of that song may …
  • Casey Penn: Juli, it was an honor to write for you here on You're good at what you do, and The …

Recently Reviewed Albums

  • walkerandthetexasdangers3
  • deadmanstown
  • tom t hall storytellers
  • paulthorntooblessed
  • duhksbeyondtheblue
  • kelleymickwee
  • sandrarhodes
  • candi staton