Harrier Angel Lyrics: Red River Valley

Red River Valley

Traditional melody with additional music and words by © Cass von Braun, all rights reserved
Instrumental performances and arrangement by Robert J. Mooney


PLAY MUSIC TOGETHER This version includes the traditional verses intertwined with the new setting.

In this case, the song is not a typical verse/chorus song structure, yet it is not difficult to follow, especially with the help of the lead sheets to be found here (with melody notation, does not show extra verses or refrains) and here (same as below, shows complete structure of new form)

TAKE THE LID OFF THE WELL AND LISTEN TO AN ANCIENT VOICE
Practice with others, develop new harmonies, and rediscover the power of this seminal American folk song.

Get the "Red River Valley" Lead Sheets PDF files.

Cassie's "Red River Valley"

TRADITIONAL VERSE
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 pathways awhile

NEW VERSE
In the flood you were borne through the water
Like a foundling, I carried you here
We could pass forty years like a moment
Far too soon I must leave you, my dear

NEW REFRAIN
Come and sit by my side if you love me,
One more time
There are different ways ahead we must go
Our prayers for eachother make it right
Where ever we are bound, let it be for the light

NEW SECTION
In darkness I came to this place
The mystery of love
The rhythm of the blood bids our return
There was never any happiness
Like lying in your arms
Sweeter than the pear the secrets we share
So like the leaves, all my beliefs
Travel far upon the storm
The roots of my existence
Are planted deep along these shores

NEW VERSE
So remember the Red River Valley
Remember the breeze in your hair
How we sat on the banks in the moonlight
How it seemed we would always be here

NEW TAG
And if they want the answer
Why angels should be born
Say just because you wanted it
Juice and fruit and thorn

TRADITIONAL VERSE, ADAPTED
I've been thinking, my darling, a long time
All the sweet things I never did say
Now, alas, I may speak or be silent
It won't keep you from going away

NEW REFRAIN (repeated, as above)
Come and sit by my side if you love me,
One more time
There are different ways ahead we must go
Our prayers for eachother make it right
Where ever we are bound, let it be for the light

TRADITIONAL VERSE
Come and sit by my side if you love me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
Just remember the Red River Valley
And the one who has loved you so true


NEW TAG
And if they want the answer
Why angels should be born
Say just because you wanted it
Juice and fruit and thorn



Okay, I may have changed a few words of these traditional verses, especially the second one ("I've been thinking, my darling, a long time. . .").

I felt compelled to do this because I found the original to be painfully bitter, and sometimes angry, and I just couldn't bring myself to give it that way.

These changes meant waiting a long time for the right words to come.

You may disagree. If you want to sing it the other way, by all means do as you must -- I don't mind. However, if you do, you will have to look up those versions for yourself ;)

At the bottom of the page is a lead sheet for the new long version. If you save it to disk or open it in a new window, you will find it is actually much larger and more legible than the little placeholder below. Try it out -- and do, please, let me know how you like it.

For light, life and love, y'rs tr'ly,
cristobal aka Cass von Braun


play it now
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a note from the author
We will always be together
We will always be together
When I was young, I loved this song but to me it always felt incomplete --, and, moreover, I felt oddly responsible for that, as though actually believing it was my own song, that I had written it, and would one day finish it.

My father's family settled in North Dakota's Red River Valley around 1917. When he died, the song kept going through my mind. When I arrived at the depth of meaning in the imagery, it was the simple and beautiful duality of our mortality and the gift of life: the Red River Valley is the birth canal, and we all pass this way through the mortal coil. Finally I knew what my version must be like, so I wrote it for him.

Getting the song on paper was a very emotional experience, and perhaps it was due to the intensity of poetic concentration and grieving, but something strange happened to illuminate the moment when I knew it was done: there was a loud clattering noise in the next room, and when I went to investigate I discovered the menorah on the mantel had somehow fallen so that it was standing upright on its base on the seat of an antique Savonarola chair.


How this might have happened is very difficult to explain because the Savonarola chair was against the same wall, next the mantel, and at least three feet away. The menorah fell not only down but quite a distance to the side, and landed upright. In that moment it felt like my father had found a way to let me know he was with me.

My father was from a family that went to Russia with Catherine The Great. They were Germans From Russia.

Another odd thing happened as I was driving to Cambridge to meet my husband after work that same day. I was listening to NPR's "All Things Considered," where they were interviewing a musicologist of American folk music. He said, among other things, that a creditable recording of "Red River Valley" had not been made in more than forty years, and it was "long overdue for a hit." I thought that was astonishing, and of course I agreed with him. It is a strange story, but true.

Do, please, let me know what you think of the song.

We will always be together

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