(To learn how to play, watch the video below, or download the free sheet music.)
She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain is a folk song, thought to have been written in the 1800’s. When doing research, I learned it has a very surprising history. Not the simple children’s song it seems to be. I wanted to do something light-hearted and fun this time around. She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain seemed about right. Light, fun, fast. A toe-tapper with lots of spirit. Simple children’s song about a wagon on it’s way to town. Flying down the road, drawn by six white horses, everybody yelling ‘Hallelujah” when she arrives.
A brief aside here; when I was young, Dad was Navy. He and Mom tried to get me piano lessons, but either we moved, or my teachers moved. In three years, I had three piano teachers, and each one insisted I start completely at the beginning to learn ‘her way’. That was the short version of why I had 3 years of first-year lessons. (Bet you’ve never known anybody who got held back 3 times in piano class!) Somewhere in one of those first-year piano lessons, someone gave me a western songbook for children. I Painstakingly learned how to play Coming Round the Mountain. Haven’t played it very much in the following decades, but it’s funny what you remember from childhood.
So there was a bit of nostalgia at the beginning, while choosing Coming Round the Mountain as the next song. Much to my surprise, this isn’t a silly children’s round of nonsense words I always thought it was. At least, it didn’t start that way. Some say the song really hit it’s stride during the 1920’s. That’s when Mary Harris Jone (known as ‘Mother’) was pushing for labor unions in the coal mines. It became something of a banner song for the cause.
But to begin with, “Coming Round the Mountain” was an old spiritual of uncertain origin titled “When the Chariot Comes”. The tune was the same, and the lyric styling was the same, but the words referenced the rapture, and Jesus’ second coming. According to Wiki, the spiritual is ‘referenced in relation to the end of the world’. Some people find the concept frightening, others find it reassuring. Either way, not many people realize how it relates to the origin of this song.
If you’re surprised at the depth of history associated with this “simple children’s song”, you’re not alone. When I decided to do “Coming Round the Mountain”, I never expected such an amazing history. Working up an arrangement that did it justice was very enjoyable. Recording a good take for Youtube, not so much. On the second try, it went perfectly… only for me to discover my camcorder (a Flip Mino HD) was out of memory, and didn’t record it. After that, I was off-balance, and it took a lot of tries to get it right again. Eventually, it all worked out.
Having read all that, ‘Coming Round the Mountain’ is still a fun song with a great pace. I hope you enjoy it!