The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #59577   Message #951952
Posted By: Joe Offer
13-May-03 - 03:22 PM
Thread Name: Lyr ADD: Black Waters (Jean Ritchie)
Subject: DTCORR: Black Waters (Jean Ritchie)
Here is the complete text, just so we have all the corrections all together. Just yesterday, I was listening to Jim Ringer's recording of this song on his Folk-Legacy CD, "Waitin for the Hard Times to Go." He did a great job on this powerful song.

(Jean Ritchie)

I come from the mountains, Kentucky's my home,
Where the wild deer and black bear so lately did roam;
By cool rushing waterfalls the wildflowers dream,
And through every green valley there runs a clear stream.
Now there's scenes of destruction on every hand
And only black waters run down through my land.

Sad scenes of destruction on every hand,
Black waters, black waters, run down through my land.

O the quail, she's a pretty bird, she sings a sweet tongue;
In the roots of tall timbers she nests with her young.
But the hillside explodes with the dynamite's roar,
And the voices of the small birds will sound there no more;
And the hillsides come a—sliding so awful and grand,
And the flooding black waters rise over my land.

Sad scenes of destruction on every hand;
Black waters, black waters run down through the land.

In the rising of the springtime we planted our corn,
In the ending of the springtime we buried a son,
In summer come a nice man, said, "Everything's fine—
My employer just requires a way to his mine"—
Then they threw down my mountain and covered my corn,
And the grave on the hillside's a mile deeper down,
And the man stands and talks with his hat in his hand
As the poisonous water spreads over my land.

Sad scenes of destruction on every hand;
Black waters, black waters run down through the land.

Well, I ain't got no money and not much of a home;
I own my own land, but my land' s not my own.
But if I had ten million - somewheres thereabouts—
I would buy Perry County and I'd run 'em all out!
Set down on the bank with my bait in my can,
And just watch the clear waters run down through my land!

Well, wouldn't that be like the old Promised Land?
Black waters, black waters no more in my land!

Source: Celebration of Life - Jean Ritchie, Geordie Music Publishing © 1971

I live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, outside Colfax, California. The canyon of the North Fork of the American River is half a mile south of me. It's 1,200 feet deep, with steep walls covered with wildflowers. If you hike the canyon in the spring, you'll find a waterfall half mile or so. It's an absolutely lovely place.

I've seen pictures of this same canyon and how it looked 150 years ago, when gold-greedy miners dredged the river and blasted away the mountainsides with water cannons. It was a horrible, ugly place - but nature won out in the end, and the waters run clear again.

I visited Kentucky a couple of years ago, and it appears that nature is winning the battle there, too.

-Joe Offer-