And why I'm always singing it during Silver Strings Concerts?
If there's one song in the 60's that has been sung by nearly every English speaking individual in Singapore, it's Red River Valley. It is a cowboy song and it is also a river near Winnipeg, Manitoba, where I lived and studied for three years. Beautiful in Summer but hot and fabulous in Winter but piercing cold at 40 degrees Centigrade.
The Red River Valley is a region in central North America that is drained by the Red River of the North. The geography of North Dakota, Minnesota, and Manitoba reveals the fertile lands around the river and the population centers of Fargo, Moorhead, Grand Forks, and Winnipeg.
Red River Valley is well-known among musicians as a folk song, a cowboy music standard (or country and western) but apparently it has controversial origins. This song has gone by different names like, Cowboy Love Song, Bright Sherman Valley, Bright Laurel Valley, In the Bright Mohawk Valley, and Bright Little Valley and actually depending on where it has been sung.
Camp Amisk, Winnipeg, near La Salle River, last tributary of the Red River, with David Garvin and pet dog, who's cleverer than me (1985).
As the website http://www.plainsfolk.com/ commented, it could not have originated from Texas because of the line, "Do not hasten to bid me adieu..." Also Canadian folklorist researcher Edith Fowke explained that the song originated among British troops who came to Manitoba, the Red River Valley of the North.
It has also been recognised as a soldier's sweetheart song, popular in Cold War America and on Armed Forces Radio. The song could have expressed the sorrow of a local woman (a native Canadian Indian or Metis) as her soldier lover prepares to return to the east.
Many singers have recorded this song and the trail includes Marty Robbins, Jo Stafford, Gene Autry and Eddie Arnold. Johnny and The Hurricanes recorded a rock and roll adaptation of the song, Red River Rock, in 1959. It became a Top Ten hit on both sides of the Atlantic and was at number five in the U.S. and number three in the UK.
This instrumental version has also been recorded by many guitar groups. During the 60's in Singapore, it is also played frequently on stage and during tea-dances. Most uniform like the Scouts, Boys Brigade and Sea Cadets and campfire groups know this sing-a-long and the Chinese version is, Hong Her Ker - Red River Song. Popular in Stage One music books for pianos and electronic organs; it is a simple yet melodious tune. It will be sung at the gig at Orchid Country, Singapore.
Johnny and the Hurricanes Red River Rock
From this valley they say you are going,
I will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile.
For they say you are taking the sunshine,
That has brightened our pathway awhile.
Please come back to the Red River Valley,
Please come back to a heart that is true,
I'll be there in the Red River Valley,
I'll be waiting just waiting for you.
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.
1. Wikipedia - Red River Valley/Geography/Song
3. Image: taluung.blogspot.com
Original article: Andy Lim Collection