The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #4257   Message #1899072
Posted By: Lighter
03-Dec-06 - 04:27 PM
Thread Name: Origin: Shenandoah
Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
W. B. Whall and John Robinson each knew at least one version of "Shenandoah" learned apparently in the 1860s, though neither writer is absolutely specific on this point. Robinson went to sea about 1859 and Whall a few years later. Both began learning shanties immediately.

Whall's version, not published till 1909 or '10, is similar to Hugill's version "b" that begins, "Oh, Missourah, she's a mighty water." Hugill says that this pattern, with its "skipper" and "maiden," was "very popular at sea."

Robinson's text, published in 1917, starts on a more familiar note, yet manages to be more "literary" as well as less interesting. The great melody must have encouraged various sets of words ad lib from early on:

Shenandoah! I long to hear you--
Hurrah! you rolling river.
Oh, Shenandoah! I long to hear you--
And hurrah! we're bound away!
On the wide Missouri!

Seven long years since I lost Dinah;
I've searched seven years. I cannot find her.

'Twas down in Shenandoah's sweet valley,
Where first I met and courted Sally.

To Shenandoah I am returning,
My heart for thee is ever burning.

When wide Missouri's call is over,
I will go back and stay forever.

Robinson says, "I have endeavored to carry the spirit and the sense of the originals into the words I have written down." How much of his "Shenandoah" is from the '60s and how much may result from later "reconstruction" is, regrettably, not clear.