Red River Valley, The

DESCRIPTION: The singer and his love are parting (either may be singing, and either may be leaving). "Come and sit by my side [ere you leave me]; do not hasten to bid me adieu; just remember the Red River Valley, And the (sweetheart) who loved you so true..."
AUTHOR: original text ("The Bright Mohawk Valley") by James Kerrigan, 1896?
EARLIEST DATE: 1910
KEYWORDS: separation river farewell
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,MW,SE,So) Canada(West)
REFERENCES (16 citations):
Randolph 730, "The Red River Valley" (2 texts plus 2 excerpts, 1 tune)
BrownIII 260, "Red River Valley" (1 text plus 2 excerpts and mention of 3 more)
Cambiaire, pp. 81-82, "Red River Valley" (1 text)
Fowke/Johnston, pp. 88-89, "The Red River Valley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fowke/MacMillan 52, "The Red River Valley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Stout 56, pp. 74-75, "Red River Valley" (1 text)
Sandburg, pp. 130-131, "Red River Valley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSUSA 65, "Red River Valley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fife-Cowboy/West 56, "Red River Valley" (3 texts, 1 tune; the first text is "Red River Valley" and the third is the variant "Lost River Desert"; the second is a variant of "Nobody's Darling on Earth"); also 102, "Red River Gal" (1 text, 1 tune, consisting of square dance instructions set to this rune)
Cohen-AFS2, pp. 511-512, "Red River Valley" (1 text)
Tinsley, pp. 208-211, "Red RIver Valley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Arnett, p. 124, "Red River Valley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 115, "Red River Valley" (1 text)
Fuld-WFM, p. 457, "Red River Valley"
cf. Gardner/Chickering, p. 482, "Red River Valley" (source notes only)
DT, REDRIVAL*

ST R730 (Full)
Roud #756
RECORDINGS:
Gene Autry, "Red River Valley" (Columbia 20085/Columbia 37184, 1946)
Bascom & Blackwell, "Sherman Valley" (OKeh 45008, 1925)
Beverly Hillbillies, "Red River Valley" (Brunswick 421 [w. Tom & Ezra], 1930/Vocalion 03164, 1936)
Bud Billings Trio, "Red River Valley" (Victor V-40267, 1930; Montgomery Ward M-4058, 1933) [Bud Billings is a pseudonym for Frank Luther; record may have been issued as by Bud Billings & Carson Robison]
Bob Brooks, "Red River Valley" (Columbia 15689-D, 1931)
[Bill] Childers & [?] White, "Red River Valley" (OKeh 45208, 1928)
Luther Clarke & the Blue Ridge Highballers, "Bright Sherman Valley" (Columbia 15069-D, 1926)
Ned Cobben, "Red River Valley" (Harmony 901-H, 1929)
Sid Harkreader, "Red River Valley" (Paramount 3141, 1928; Broadway 8202, c. 1930)
Kelly Harrell, "Bright Sherman Valley" (Victor 20527, 1926; on KHarrell01)
Hill Billies, "Red River Valley" (Regal Zonophone [UK] MR-1698, 1935)
Bradley Kincaid, "Red River Valley" (Champion 15710 [as Dan Hughey]/Supertone 9403, 1929; Champion 45098, c. 1935) (Vocalion 5476, c. 1930/Vocalion 04647, 1939) (Decca 5048, 1934)
Dr. Lloyd & Howard Maxey [Massey], "Bright Sherman Valley" (OKeh, unissued, 1927)
Bascom Lamar Lunsford, "Sherman Valley" (OKeh 45008, 1926)
Frank Luther & Zora Layman, "Bright Sherman Valley" (Decca 5028, 1934)
Harry "Mac" McClintock, "Red River Valley" (Victor 21421, 1928)
Lester McFarland & Robert A. Gardner, "Bright Sherman Valley" (Brunswick 169/Vocalion 5174, 1927; Supertone S-2031 [as Kentucky Mountain Boys], 1930)
Bill Mooney & his Cactus Twisters, "Red River Valley" (Imperial 1096, n.d. but post-World War II)
Holland Puckett, "The Bright Sherman Valley" (Challenge 329 [as by Harvey Watson]/Gennett 6433/Herwin 75562 [as by Robert Howell]/Silvertone 5064, 25064, 8153, 1927/Supertone 9254 [as by Si Puckett; issued 1929])
[Hugh Cross &] Riley Puckett, "Red River Valley" (Columbia 15206-D, 1927) (Bluebird B-8335/Montgomery Ward M-8481, 1940; rec. 1939)
Ranch Boys, "Red River Valley" (Decca 5045, 1934)
Goebel Reeves, "Bright Sherman Valley" (Melotone M-12186, 1931)
Texas Jim Robertson, "Red River Valley" (Victor 27552, 1941)
Carson Robison Trio, "Red River Valley" (Romeo 1233/Banner 0615/Perfect 12591/Jewel 5871/Conqueror 7492, 1930) (Clarion 5109-C, 1930) (Crown 3025, 1930)
Pete Seeger, "Red River Valley" (on PeteSeeger32)
Leo Soileau & his Four Aces, "Red River Valley" (Decca 5182, 1936; rec. 1935)
Carl T. Sprague, "Cowboy Love Song" (Victor 20067, 1926)
Ernest V. Stoneman and the Dixie Mountaineers, "Bright Sherman Valley" (Edison 51951, 1927) (CYL: Edison [BA] 5383, 1927)
Sunshine Sue w. Joe Maphis, "Red River Valley" (Astra 1215, n.d.)
Texas Drifter, "Bright Sherman Valley" (Melotone M-12186, 1931)
Art Thieme, "Red River Valley" [instrumental version] (on Thieme02)
Vagabonds, "Red River Valley" (Bluebird B-5297/Montgomery Ward M-4479, 1934)
Harvey Watson [pseud. for Riley Puckett], "The Bright Sherman Valley" (Challenge 329, 1927)

SAME TUNE:
When It's Hogcalling Time (Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 158)
(Conqueror 8485, 1935; Perfect/Melotone 6-08-51, 1936; Conqueror 9512 [as Gene Autry Trio, "Answer to the Red River Valley"], 1940)
Hartman's Tennessee Ramblers, "New Red River Valley" (Bluebird B-6162, 1935' Bluebird B-8894 [as Tennessee Ramblers], 1941)
NOTES: The Fifes consider their "Little Darling" text ("Come sit by my side, little darling, Come lay your cool hand on my brow, And promise me that you will never Be nobody's darling but Mine") to be a Red River Valley variant. As, however, the chorus does not fit the "Red River Valley" tune, and the rest of the words go with this "Nobody's Darling on Earth," I classify it there.
Fuld reports a claim by Fowke that this song predates the Kerrigan text, and that the original was sung as early as 1869 in Canada, referring to the Red River of the North. I know of no supporting evidence for this claim. On the other hand, the song was recorded repeatedly in the early part of the twentieth century, with major variants in text and few versions mentioning the Mohawk Valley; this is certainly indirect evidence that the song is older than the Kerrigan version and originally referred to some other river, presumably either the northern or the southern Red.
The "Sherman Valley" variant is interesting, because there is no significant river by that name. There is a town called Sherman in Texas, though, not far south of the Red River (it's almost due north of Dallas). There is also a Sherman Peak in Colorado, southwest of Denver; it has no connection with the Red River that I can see. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.2
File: R730

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2014 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.