El-a-noy (The Plains of Illinois)

TITLE: El-a-noy (The Plains of Illinois)
AUTHOR: unknown
CATEGORY: Traditional, Public Domain
KEYWORDS: Bible, talltale, emigration, farming
EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1927 (Sandburg)

IllinoisAs the United States grew and frontier moved westward, many hardworking individuals and families sought fertile land that was either free or at least cheap, and as Alan Lomax wrote, “Every American pioneer had a touch of the real estate agent in him.” They wanted to have other people in the region, and if they had enough land or just wanted to make money, they would tell any story to entice others to the region. . . . Carl Sandburg wrote that one early magazine in Chicago had the declaration that “It is here [the West] that the great problem of human destiny will be worked out”; unfortunately, many found the land uninhabitable and returned to their previous home areas. (from Pete Seeger’s album notes for American Folk Ballads, Volume 3

OTHER TITLES AND VARIATIONS:

  • The Plains of Illinois
  • The State of Illinois
  • Elanoy

RECORDINGS: (mp3’s available through Amazon.com)

YOUTUBE VIDEO:

YOUTUBE AUDIO: download
LYRIC & CHORD PRO CHART: download
PPT LYRICS FOR THE CLASSROOM: download
BONUS YOUTUBE VIDEO: “EL-A-Noy” & America in the 1860s (IllinoisDoug)

El-a-noy

Way down upon the Wabash,
such land was never known;
If Adam had passed over it,
the soil he’d surely own.

He’d think it was the garden
he’d played in as a boy,
And straight pronounce it
Eden in the State of Elanoy.

Then move your fam’ly westward,
Good health you will enjoy,
And rise to wealth and honor in
The State of Elanoy.

‘Twas here the queen of Sheba came,
with Solomon of old.
With bullock’s load of spices,
pomegranates and fine gold;

And when she saw this lovely land
her heart was filled with joy
Straightway she said “I’d like to be
a queen of Elanoy.”

Then move your fam’ly westward,
Good health you will enjoy,
And rise to wealth and honor in
The State of Elanoy.

She’s bounded by the Wabash,
the Ohio and the Lakes.
She’s crawfish in the swampy lands,
the milk-sick and the shakes.

But these are slight diversions
and take not from the joy
Of living in this garden land,
State of Elanoy.

Then move your fam’ly westward,
Good health you will enjoy,
And rise to wealth and honor in
The State of Elanoy.

Away up in the northward,
right on the borderline
A great commercial city,
Chicago, you will find.

Her men are all like Abelard,
her women like Heloise
All honest virtuous people,
for they live in Elanoy.

Then move your fam’ly westward,
Good health you will enjoy,
And cross at Shawnee Ferry to
The State of Elanoy

SOURCES:

  • Folk Song Index: A Comprehensive Guide to the Florence E. Brunnings Collection, Florence E. Brunnings, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London 1981—Amazon Books

SONGBOOKS:

NOTICE: I’m not the best guitar player or vocalist, but no one loves these songs more than I do. The tune and lyrics are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. The recording © copyright 2013 by Stephen Griffith and may be used by permission of the copyright holder. The variation of the song I’m posting is the version I perform and is not exactly replicating the sources cited, but is always in the same song family. If anyone has more details about this song, or believes I’ve stated something in error, please let me know. I’m also open to suggestions to improve the site. Thanks. sgg

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