Tune of the Day: Red River Valley
This cowboy music standard has gone by many different names, notably including “Cowboy Love Song”.
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 cowboy that has loved you so true.
Both the melody and the lyrics have very uncertain origins. According to Canadian folklorist Edith Fowke, there is anecdotal evidence that the song was known in at least five Canadian provinces before 1896. This finding led to speculation that the song was composed at the time of the 1870 Wolseley Expedition to Manitoba's northern Red River Valley.
The earliest known written manuscript of the lyrics bears the notations “Nemaha 1879” and “Harlan 1885”, possibly referring to either two counties in Nebraska or to two towns in Iowa.
The song was brought to its greatest popularity by Texan Jules Verne Allen's 1929 recording titled “Cowboy's Love Song”. Allen himself thought the song was from Pennsylvania, perhaps brought over from Europe.
Thanks to Elan for suggesting this tune!