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Shenandoah Origin

DigiTrad:
OH, MY ROLLING RIVER
SHENANDOAH


Related threads:
'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits (55)
(origins) Origin: Shenandoah (189)
Lyr Add: 'Shenandoah' in the U.S. army (9)
Lyr Add: Shenandoah (32)
Lyr Req: Shenandoah en francais (7)
Help: Land of Misery (Shenandoah) (10)
Shenandoah (11) (closed)
Shenandoah and free melodies (8)
Origin: Shenandoah (8) (closed)
Lyr Req: Shenandoah (12) (closed)


GUEST,subcoyote 11 May 01 - 12:31 AM
Stewie 11 May 01 - 01:11 AM
MMario 11 May 01 - 08:57 AM
KingBrilliant 11 May 01 - 10:04 AM
Kim C 11 May 01 - 10:15 AM
Malcolm Douglas 11 May 01 - 10:37 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 11 May 01 - 10:58 AM
Kim C 11 May 01 - 11:04 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 11 May 01 - 11:14 AM
Malcolm Douglas 11 May 01 - 11:23 AM
IanC 11 May 01 - 11:34 AM
Malcolm Douglas 11 May 01 - 12:30 PM
GUEST,Ole Bull 14 May 01 - 10:22 PM
Kim C 15 May 01 - 01:03 PM
Malcolm Douglas 15 May 01 - 01:26 PM
Chicken Charlie 15 May 01 - 06:35 PM
Kim C 16 May 01 - 10:02 AM
GUEST,bluebird 16 May 01 - 09:44 PM
toadfrog 16 May 01 - 10:32 PM
GUEST,crushernep 10 Dec 08 - 02:39 PM
Nick E 10 Dec 08 - 06:29 PM
GUEST,Roy McLean 09 Apr 10 - 10:47 AM
GUEST,Roy McLean 09 Apr 10 - 11:15 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Apr 10 - 01:38 PM
Lighter 10 Apr 10 - 10:02 AM
Lighter 10 Apr 10 - 10:23 AM
Lighter 10 Apr 10 - 04:32 PM
Charley Noble 10 Apr 10 - 04:55 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 Apr 10 - 05:08 PM
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Subject: Shenandoah Origin
From: GUEST,subcoyote
Date: 11 May 01 - 12:31 AM

Hello-

Wondering if anyone can tell me the origin and history of the song "Shenandoah." I'll be playing it at a friend's wedding and was hoping to know more. It's a beautiful song, full of longing, but I know nothing of its history. Thanks in advance!


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: Stewie
Date: 11 May 01 - 01:11 AM

Hi subcoyote, if you put Shenandoah (without quote marks) in the 'Digitrad and Forum Search' box on the main forum page, you will get enough 'hits' in the forum to keep you busy for quite some time.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: MMario
Date: 11 May 01 - 08:57 AM

which boils down to the history of the song is long, convoluted and shrouded in mysteries, and no one has a definative answer. *grin*


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 11 May 01 - 10:04 AM

I thought it was a shanty. There's a section about it in Stan Hugill's Songs of the 7 seas. I'll look it up over the weekend, and post a summary of his opinion next week if noone else has by then.

Kris


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: Kim C
Date: 11 May 01 - 10:15 AM

Here's what I tell people when I perform this, and it's as near as I can figure... originating as a boatman's song in the 1830s or thereabouts, went out to sea as a shanty, came back to land as a ballad and has been sung as one for many years. It was popular with soldiers during the Civil War, and went out west with them afterwards and has enjoyed an incarnation as a cowboy ballad.

Like MMario said, there's really no definitive answer, but this is the one I've been able to glean from the sources I've consulted.


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 11 May 01 - 10:37 AM

As Stewie said above, the "Digitrad and Forum Search", always the place to start before asking about such well-known songs as this, reveals many past discussions archived here, besides a set, with tune, in the DT:  Shenandoah

Probably the most comprehensive discussion is the following, to which Jeri provided a link last time someone asked this question (about 3 months ago):

Song info: "Shenandoah"

It contains a great deal of interesting information, and speculation, which there would be little point in repeating here.  Watch out, too, for one particular message containing one of the most extraordinary pieces of pseudo-celtic romantic nonsense that I've seen here in a long time, so completely barmy that it was a pleasure to read.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 11 May 01 - 10:58 AM

Hi Subcoyote:

Here are some of those threads.

Shenandoah
Solid Fas
 
Message Threads
 
Song Info
Lyr Add: Shenandoah
O Shenandoah
Need Some Sea Chanteys
Shenandoah
Shenandoah
History of Shenandoah
Shenandoah Song Info
Lyr Req: Shenadoah


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: Kim C
Date: 11 May 01 - 11:04 AM

There's some interesting discussions on the links Malcolm posted. Several people were clamoring for "earliest printed versions," which is a noble pursuit... but songs can be passed through oral tradition for a Very Long Time before they ever come into print.


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 11 May 01 - 11:14 AM

Here's another link on Shenandoah from Lesley Nelson's Contemplator site

Contemplations on Shenandoah


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 11 May 01 - 11:23 AM

It can certainly often be the case that a song doesn't appear in print until it has been around for some time, but it's also true that many are then imagined to be of great antiquity where they are nothing of the kind.  In the absence of evidence, the only safe line to take is to quote the earliest recorded date for a song, with the proviso that it may be older.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: IanC
Date: 11 May 01 - 11:34 AM

Re: dating

Taking the earliest printed date may be "safe", whatever that means, but it is often far from sensible. The earliest printed date only ever gives you the latest "earliest" data - you can always say "at least as early as ...".

I have frequently seen statements like "it can't be by ... because the ealiest date (i.e. printed date) is 60 years later. There can be other evidence for dating!

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 11 May 01 - 12:30 PM

Quite so; when I said "safe", I could equally have said "reliable".  There can indeed often be other evidence to suggest an approximate age, but, as I said, in the absence of such evidence no reliable estimate can be made, so it is generally better simply to say so rather than confuse people by speculating.  People so often assume traditional songs to be older than they really are, that a little push in the opposite direction may at times be a useful counter-balance.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: GUEST,Ole Bull
Date: 14 May 01 - 10:22 PM

Malcolm is entirely right. This song is not so mysterious. The fact is that the first record of it is in the first decade of the 20th century and that some claim that it is older. Period. Is there anything else available about it's origin that I haven't seen?


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: Kim C
Date: 15 May 01 - 01:03 PM

Does this first record give any indication as to the supposed composer of the song?


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 15 May 01 - 01:26 PM

Please note that I'm making no assumptions about the history of this particular song, and have no opinion as to its age or provenance (except with reference to the bizarre theory I mentioned earlier)!  I made a general observation about the tendency people often have to insist that a song must be very old, when they actually have no evidence.  They may be right, they may be wrong; but without documentation it can only be a guess, and should not be stated as "fact"; merely (sometimes) educated guesswork.  If there were a reported attribution of Shenandoah to a supposed composer, it would be quite well known about, I should think.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: Chicken Charlie
Date: 15 May 01 - 06:35 PM

Yet another "Shenandoah" problem is pronunciation of the name of the river. I learned the song from two refugees from the Ozarks, and have ever since sung, "Across the wide Missour-AH," only to be beaten with blunt objects by people from St. Louis who will not take the sacrament with or from anyone who does not say Missour-EE. I am told the dividing line is Highway 44; you're in Missouri if you're north of that and Missourah if you're south. I continue to sing "Missourah" but now I explain it, so we don't have as many speakers kicked in by rabid Saintlouisians. Aren't people just flaming hilarious??

CC


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: Kim C
Date: 16 May 01 - 10:02 AM

You sing it however you dang well please. Folk process at work and all that.

I agree that this song may not be as old as some believe; but since a good deal of People Who Ought to Know seem to believe that... well, where there's smoke, there's usually fire.

the voyage continues.......


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: GUEST,bluebird
Date: 16 May 01 - 09:44 PM

The song came from a person who saw the missouri river and longed for their home away from home wqhich was a damn long walk to the ocean..


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: toadfrog
Date: 16 May 01 - 10:32 PM

Malcom Douglas:

Your common sense is much appreciated! Folk music is a really rich area for BS, and it is good to see it does not dominate here!

Your namesake, Malcom Forbes, an incredibly learned man, wrote a history of chess in which he concluded that the original game, chataranga, dated from 5000 B.C.! Because the name derived from the 4 divisions of Vedic armies, and he thought the Vedas went back that far.


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: GUEST,crushernep
Date: 10 Dec 08 - 02:39 PM

While watching Celtic Woman , Shenandoah was played on violin and they mentioned the Pacific Slope as the originators. Does anyone know anything about the Pacific Slope group?


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: Nick E
Date: 10 Dec 08 - 06:29 PM

I would just like to fan the flames by saying judging from it's present form it seems unlikely the song was ever a shanty, but I'll have to look in my songs of the 7 seas, as someone said Hugill mentions it.


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: GUEST,Roy McLean
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 10:47 AM

I have read that the Scots-Irish regiments sang "Their own Shenandoah Song" when they marched down from their highland homes in the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Valley to take part in the American War of Independence. This song is thought to have been the fore runner of the song we now know as "Shenandoah".

If this is true it would date the song to at least the 1770s, thus making it America's orginal battle hymn years before "Battle Hymn of the Republic"! One version I have heard in Ulster contains the verse:


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: GUEST,Roy McLean
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 11:15 AM

"Oh Shenandoah, this country needs me
Away you rollin river
Oh Shenandoah, I will not fail thee
Away we march away cross the wide Missouri"


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 01:38 PM

? Written source mentioning possible use of song by "Scots-Irish regiments as they marched from highland homes in the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Valley..."

Or is this just anecdotal?


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: Lighter
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 10:02 AM

Sounds to me like a fantasized "reconstruction" on the part of Jim's source.

After checking numerous databases, I can find no trace or recollection at all of the song "Shenandoah" before the mid nineteenth century, seventy or more years after its alleged appearance as a so-called "marching song."

The original geographical spelling was "Shannandore": no earlier song traces with that spelling either.

No collector, including the Lomaxes, has ever reported the stanza Jim heard, or for that matter any patriotic stanzas sung to "Shenandoah."


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: Lighter
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 10:23 AM

I meant "Roy," not "Jim." Sorry.


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: Lighter
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 04:32 PM

And I meant "Shanandore" with one "n" in the middle. Not my day.


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 04:55 PM

Capt. W. B. Whall suggested that the song first came from American or French Canadian voyageurs as a river boat song with its reference to the "wide Missouri" which is nowhere near the sea.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 05:08 PM

Whall also said the song had nothing to do with the sea
(Thread 4257 has lots about the song, including much speculation). Shenandoah


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