If you were to read through the words penned by Ola Belle Reed, you would find yourself standing in the cool breezes of an Appalachian field. Home would be a stone’s throw away and the music coming from your porch would drift faintly through the swaying grass, curling up over your ankles and resting on the tops of your feet. Her songs remind us of a life we’ve only seen glimpses of. Or maybe we know it as well as the back of our hand, and would give it all to go back to what used to be a reality.
To the best of my knowledge, High On A Mountain was written around 1976, as a part of an album called My Epitaph. Ola Belle Reed was a musician; her life was documented through the songs she wrote and sang. Naturally, an album was the only answer to the question of how to write a biography. She composed both the album and the liner notes to tell the story of her childhood, and the woman she had become. Written with her brother, Alex Campbell, it went on to be recorded by Del McCoury and Marty Stuart, making it both a bluegrass standard and a top selling country hit.
As I looked at the valleys down below
They were green just as far as I could see
As my memory returned oh how my heart did yearn
For you and the day that used to be
High on a mountain top wind blowing free
Wondering about the days that used to be
High on a mountain top standing all alone
Wondering where the years of my life have flown
Oh I wonder if you ever think of me
Or if time has blotted out your memory
As I listen to the breeze blow gently through the trees
I’ll always cherish what you meant to me
I don’t think I need to say anything else. The song is straight-forward and honest; it speaks to anyone who turns their ears towards its tune. If Ola Belle were here, she’d probably tell me to pipe down and listen. And I probably should.