In The Pines - A Traditional Folk Song

In The Pines is a traditional American folk song which can be traced back to the end of the 19th century at least, or maybe as far as the US Civil War era. Also known as Black Girl and Where Did You Sleep Last Night, the song was popularized in recent years by Kurt Cobain's rendition on the 1993 MTV Unplugged Show, and its posthumous album release a year later.

In 1917, the first printed version compiled by Cecil Sharp knows only the following four verses :
Black girl, black girl, don't lie to me
Where did you stay last night?
I stayed in the pines where the sun never shines
And shivered when the cold wind blows

Here you'll find a seven additional versions of Where Did You Sleep Last Night sung in various styles :

On Folkways : The Original Vision [Smithsonian Folkways]

During the MTV Unplugged show Kurt Cobain cites Lead Belly as being his favorite performer and the author of the song.
He's not but he did record several versions between 1944 and 1948.

on The Folkway Years 1959-1961 [Smithsonian Folkways]

This is one of my three favorite versions of In The Pines. Here the faint guitar really underlines the beautiful dramaturgy of Van Ronk's voice. No wonder he was one of the Village's most respected performer at the beginning of the sixties.

on Very Early Joan [Vanguard]

Both powerful
and wonderfully crystalline, Joan Baez's singing conveys a rare intensity to the tune. This is one I never get tired of hearing although her persistent vibrato may not be everybody's cup of tea.

on The Quiet Sides Of The New Christy Minstrels [Columbia]

Here a traditional gospel choir version with plenty of strings and classic emphasis, pasted upon a typically country
instrumental intro part.

on The Golden Road : Birth Of The Dead [Rhino / Wea]

A white blues rendition in a typical sixties manner that reminds me of early Eric Burdon & The Animals style because of both the singing and the Hammond organ. One I particularly enjoy.

It Ain't Easy - UK Bonus Tracks [Warner]

Slide guitar, banjo and intricate male/female duet voices for this beautifully bluesy version entitled Black Girl on the remastered album.

on The High Lonesome Sound [Smithsonian Folkways]

High pitched mournful singing and traditional folk/blues picking patterns taking us back to the roots of American folk songs. It might seem a little hard to listen to at first, but stick with it and you should come to value this version very highly.