Shenendoah
Traditional - treatment and original lyrics William J. Hall April 15, 2005

  1 This Welshman loves an Indian maiden
  2 - Away, you rolling river -
  3 In my canoe with tokens laden
  4 Away, I'm bound away
  5 'Cross the wide Missoura
 
  6 For, Shenandoah, I love your daughter
  7 - Away, you rolling river -
  8 It's for her hand I'll cross the water
  9 Away, I'm bound away
  10 'Cross the wide Missoura
 
  11 Upon the shore where I first saw her
  12 - Away, you rolling river -
  13 I knew I could not bide without her
  14 Away, I'm bound away
  15 'Cross the wide Missoura
 
  12 Oh Shenandoah, we're going to leave you
  13 - Away, you rolling river -
  14 Oh Shenandoah, I'll not deceive you
  15 Away, I'm bound away
  16 'Cross the wide Missoura
 
  17 But come the Blue Days of September
  18 - Away, you rolling river -
  19 Then look for us upon the river
  20 Away, I'm bound away
  21 'Cross the wide Missoura
 

underlined lyrics are my additions

Notes -

Since childhood, this has been one of my favorite traditional American folk songs.  I suppose the first version I remember is my friend, Pete Seeger's.

The traditional lyrics for this song, like so many traditional lyrics, seem to be a hodge-podge of influences but the earliest ones date from the early 19th century and are about a "white man" who loves the daughter of chief Shenandoah.

The melody has been so beloved that over the decades, other influences came into the lyrics - river-men stealing the chief's daughter, soldiers longing for their home... I once heard a lovely, devastating version that seemed to recall the "Trail of Tears."

But I wanted to tell a focused, succinct story - so I made it into a little love song.

When I sang it for some of my Native American family, they  suggested I say "This Welshman" rather than "This White Man" (the more traditional line) because my heritage is part Welsh and juxtapositioned with the the term "Indian maiden," it seemed to take away any offensive sting.  The term "Blue Days" is a particular Native American term meaning "nights."

William J. Hall & 2005 all rights reserved ASCAP


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