Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Talbot Brothers: Trail Of Tears

One of the saddest but most beautiful songs in my collection comes from catalog of music by Terry and John Michael Talbot. Released on their first album following the breakup of Mason Proffit, “Trail of Tears” tells the story of the removal of members of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole tribes from the South Eastern US to relocate to the Indian Territories, which is now the state of Oklahoma.

The Trail of Tears was a series of forced marches of these Native American tribes with the relocation often occurring in the very worst of conditions as they were taken from their homes to reservations hundreds of miles away. For the Seminoles, the journey was a thousand miles or more. Many died from disease, starvation, and exposure to the elements on this tear filled journey. One source estimates that 4,000 of the 15,000 relocated Cherokee died en route to what is now Oklahoma.

I first became acquainted with this album and tune with the re-release of the Warner Brothers album on Sparrow Records in 1976. This is absolutely my favorite cut on the entire album and I think what drew me to this song was the acoustic Hawaiian guitar played by David Lindley. An expert multi-instrumentalist, Lindley adds two tracks of Hawaiian guitar to “Trail of Tears.”

David Lindley playing a Weissenborn Hawaiian Guitar

For those unfamiliar with the instrument, the Hawaiian guitar is a six-string guitar with a raised nut. It was the predecessor to the lap steel guitar and the Dobro®.

I can’t swear to it, but Lindley is probably playing a Weissenborn Hawaiian guitar on "Trail of Tears." It is an unusual instrument in that the guitar’s neck is a part of its body. The neck cavity is hollow as well giving the guitar a sweet but haunting tone with natural reverberation. I hope now you can understand my affinity towards this particular cut.


  1. A comment on this song two years after your post: Yes, this is an awesome track. I didn't know it was David Lindley that played the great slide, but I played this over and over because of that solo. Maybe I don't get out much, but I think that that is my favorite solo of all time.

    1. Just noticed your comment Allen. I think it is some of Lindley's best work.