We’ve got it made today. We can plop down in our motorized vehicles, type in our final coordinates into our navigation device of choice, sit back, and mindlessly move from one coast to the other with barely any effort.
But long before there was Route 66 or Highway 1, long before there were even Europeans in North America, there was the Cumberland Gap.
As easy as it is to take our ease of travel for granted, it certainly wasn’t always this way. For hundreds of thousand of years, traveling long distances for humans was HARD work. Especially if it involved mountain ranges.
Anything that made traversing those ranges easier, like a long passable stretch of land between the ridges, was cause for celebration. And maybe a song or three.
So this week’s tune, Cumberland Gap, is one of those tunes that has multiple versions floating around. Some have two parts, some three. Some are in D, some are in G. There are even specialized banjo “Cumberland Gap” tunings just for playing this tune. And, of course, even these can vary from one place to another!
All this variety is probably testament to the importance of this gateway to the west in Appalachian history. Personally, I’ve always been partial to the three part version of this tune in the key of D. So, naturally, that’s the one I’ve chosen to present here.