Tune of the Day: On Top of Old Smoky
Old Smoky is often identified with a high mountain somewhere in the Ozarks or the central Appalachians, since the tune of this traditional American ballad bears the stylistic hallmarks of the Scottish and Irish people who settled that region. Possibilities include Clingmans Dome, named “Smoky Dome” by local Scots-Irish inhabitants, but exactly which mountain it is may be lost to antiquity.
On top of Old Smoky, all covered with snow
I lost my true lover, for courtin' too slow
“On Top of Old Smoky” was notably recorded by The Weavers in 1951, using an arrangement by Pete Seeger; it reached the pop music charts, and sold over a million copies.
The song has many parody versions, the most famous being the 1963 hit “On Top of Spaghetti” by Tom Glazer, which deals with the loss of a meatball “when somebody sneezed.”