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  • Writer's pictureThe Rough & Tumble

Red River Valley

What makes a good Americana song a good Americana song, you ask? Heartache. Longing. Homesickness for a place you can't return to. The road that took the one you love away and won't bring them back. Loss; the person, place and thing. Also, a memorable melody.

This week on Double Americana we'll cover the traditional tune, "Red River Valley," a song that even if you don't know it, you know it. It goes by other names including "Cowboy Love Song", "Bright Sherman Valley", "Bright Laurel Valley", "In the Bright Mohawk Valley", "Bright Little Valley" and it appears in many beginners music books. It's a beautiful tune of unknown origin but there's speculation it was written by Canadians before the expedition to Manitoba in 1870. The Red River Valley is the valley that forms a natural border between Minnesota and North Dakota and is part of both the United States and Canada. This is one of those songs that has lots of verses that probably were written by different people about different people and so in our version we consolidated a bit, and are only singing the verses that resonate the most with us.

This song was suggested to us by our friend, Kelsey Pray, who will be joining us on Facebook today at noon EST, to sing The Red River Valley. Play along! Chords and lyrics are below.

The Red River Valley

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