The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #18975   Message #2942110
Posted By: Taconicus
08-Jul-10 - 09:11 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Alternate Red River Valley
Subject: Lyr Add: THE RED RIVER VALLEY
A discussion at folkinfo.org cites notes from the aforementioned Penguin book to the effect that "Later research indicates that it was known in at least five Canadian provinces before 1896, and was probably composed during the Red River Rebellion of 1870 [and] told of an Indian or half-breed girl lamenting the departure of her white lover, a soldier who came west with Colonel Wolseley to suppress the first Riel rebellion."

I believe the version of "Red River Valley" mentioned above and quoted in another Mudcat thread by John Garst (via Richie), is the earliest written version, since other similar versions seem to have added to or modified it, but that cannot currently be verified. It can be seen in a pencilled manuscript in the Edwin Ford Piper Collection, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa, and is marked at the bottom, "Nemaha 1879. Harlan 1885."

In the same collection is what appears to be a clipping from a newspaper column of which the penciled manuscript may have been the source. It has the same lyrics except for some minor changes that may have been made because the author thought they "scan" better in song, or that some copy editor made for reasons of spelling or grammar--or maybe a combination of both (e.g., "o'ershadows me" is changed to "shadows o'er me" and "awhile" is changed to "a while"). I have copies of both so I guess I could upload them if I can figure out a way to put the citation on them.

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The Red River Valley

From the valley they say you are going,
I shall miss your bright eyes and fair smile;
But alas, you take with you the sunshine
That has brightened my pathway awhile.

Chorus:
Then consider awhile ere you leave me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
But remember the Red River Valley
And the heart that has loved you so true.

Do you think of the valley you're leaving,
How lonesome and dreary 'twill be?
Do you think of the heart you have broken
And the sorrow that o'ershadows me?

It is a long time I've been waiting
For the words that you never would say,
But alas, all my hopes they have vanished
For they say you are going away.

When you go to your home by the ocean,
O do not forget the sweet hours,
That we spent in the Red River Valley
And be true to your promise to me.

The fair maiden prays for her lover
To the spirit that rules o'er the world
May his pathway be covered with sunshine
Is the prayer of the Red River girl.

Nemaha 1879.
Harlan 1885

Citation: The Edwin Ford Piper Collection, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa