This was a sea chantey, used with the windlass, and the capstan.The lead man would sing the first and third lines of each verse and the crew would sing on the second and fourth lines, as they did their work, with winches for loading cargo, raising sails, pulling up anchors, and other jobs on deck.

Some believe the song originated among the early American river men, or Canadian voyageurs. Others believe it was a land song before it went to sea. Most agree that it incorporates both Irish and African-American elements.

Shenandoah was tremendously popular both on land and sea and was known by countless names, including: Shennydore, The Wide Missouri, The Wild Mizzourye, The World Of Misery-Solid Fas (a West Indian rowing shanty that may be older than other versions), The Oceanida, and Rolling River.

Two verses of the song were published in an article by W. J. Alden in Harper's Magazine (1882). A version of Solid Fa's was collected by R. Abrams in England in 1909. The shanty is said to date at least to the 1820s.

Shenandoah was an Indian chief living on the Missouri River.

Thanks to Lesley Nelson for this information:

[E] Oh Shenandoah, I love your daughter
[A] Way-aye, you rolling [E] river
I'll [C#m] take her 'cross yon rolling [E] water
[E] A way - we're bound away
'cross the [B7] wide [E] Missouri!

The Chief disdained the trader's dollars,
Way-aye, you rolling river
My daughter you shall never follow
A way - we're bound away
'cross the wide Missouri!

For seven years I courted Sally,
Way-aye, you rolling river
For seven more I longed to have her
A way - we're bound away
'cross the wide Missouri!

She said she would not be my lover
Way-aye, you rolling river
Because I was a tarry sailor
A way - we're bound away
'cross the wide Missouri!

At last there came a Yankee skipper
Way-aye, you rolling river
He winked his eye, and he tipped his flipper
A way - we're bound away
'cross the wide Missouri!

He sold the Chief that fire-water
Way-aye, you rolling river
And 'cross the river he stole his daughter
A way - we're bound away
'cross the wide Missouri!

Oh Shenandoah, I love your daughter
Way-aye, you rolling river
I'll take her 'cross yon rolling water
A way - we're bound away
'cross the wide Missouri!

Recorded September 2, 2003

Roger McGuinn / McGuinn Music

The purpose of the Folk Den is to use the medium of the World Wide Web to continue the tradition of the folk process, that is the telling of stories, and singing of songs, passed on from one generation to another, by word of mouth.

In this electronic era, such a process is in danger of being overwhelmed by the commercial mass media. This page and others on the 'net are working to preserve the folk songs that have chronicled our global heritage for centuries.

In the Folk Den, a "new" folk song is uploaded every month as a "Global Community Service."

Roger McGuinn, webmaster
Folk Den

The Folk Den Archive

All songs performed by: Roger McGuinn © 2005 McGuinn Music

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Old Riley June 2005
Wanderin' April 2005
Let The Bullgine Run February 2005
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Noel December 2004
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Spanish Ladies October 2004
Oh Freedom September 2004
Haul Away Joe August 2004
Salty Dog June 2004
Whistling Gypsy May 2004
Drunken Sailor March 2004
Silver Dagger February 2004
The Gallows Pole January 2004
Heave Away November 2003
Banks of Ohio October 2003
Shenandoah September 2003
Go Tell Aunt Rhodie August 2003
Pretty Saro March 2003
St. James Infirmary February 2003
Away in a Manger December 2002
I Am a Pilgrim November 2002
Wildwood Flower October 2002
Railroad Bill September 2002
Delia's Gone August 2002
All My Trials July 2002
Tarrytown June 2002
Roddy McCorely March 2002
Waltzing Matilda January 2002
America For Me October 2001
The Streets of Laredo September 2001
Sylvie August 2001
Nancy Whiskey July 2001
The Colorado Trail April 2001
The Riddle Song February 2001
Stewball January 2001
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Makes A Long Time Man Feel Bad
November 2000 [5 YEARS!!!]
The Cruel War August 2000
Willie Moore June 2000
Lilly of the West April 2000
Dink's Song March 2000
Auld Lang Syne January 2000
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I Saw Three Ships December 1999
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Trouble In Mind August 1999
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