For reasons that become clearer to me the older I get, I have always been a bit enamored of the song “Red River Valley”, an old Canadian song (apparently) that has been sung by probably every country musician at least some point in their careers as well as by Garrison Keiler every time he takes the stage. None of that is what drew me to the song. It dates from as early as 1870 in Manitoba and then shortly thereafter in Harlan in western Iowa so it spread throughout the Great Plains and the Midwest with some speed. Also not why I am in love with this song.
It is really about the lyrics and the very simple, jaunty melody. It just does it for me like music does from time to time. It does so in a way that I cannot completely articulate. I mean I know there are better songs and better melodies, but this one is for me; its mine. Those lyrics, boy.
- From this valley they say you are going.
- We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile,
- For they say you are taking the sunshine
- That has brightened our pathway a while.
- So come sit by my side if you love me.
- Do not hasten to bid me adieu.
- Just remember the Red River Valley,
- And the one that has loved you so true.
All well and good, but rather than give you the classic version, I decided to opt for the Johnny and The Hurricanes version.Go ahead and click it, right click and download it, whatever you want to do.
Johnny and the Hurricanes was a rock band that started life as The Orbits in Toledo, Ohio in 1957. Led by saxophonist Johnny Paris (born in Ohio and died in Ann Arbor, MI), they had a popular rockabilly sound that had quite a following in Europe. So much so that The Beatles were their opening act in Hamburg. Either way, great track and try not to tap your foot to the beat.
Well, the Johnny and the Hurricanes’ version proved popular enough to warrant a few alternative takes, including Silicon Teens‘ version, which achieved some limited success. It is some goofy fun so am including that as well. You know, I had recebtly been feeling paralysis in regards to my blog here for awhile, struggling under the weight of what to post, what added relevance and all that. I just remembered that sometimes the audience is just me and occasionally it is alright to just tap your foot a bit and relish an early spring sunset. Life doesn’t always have to be serious to be profound; something I learned just today after listening to this track a dozen or so times.