Red Wing

TITLE: Red Wing
AUTHOR: Kerry Mills and Thurland Chattaway
CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain
KEYWORDS: American Indians, death, battle
EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: copyrighted in 1907, now in public domain
SOME CONSIDER THIS SONG OFFENSIVE: See below.

Red WingFrederick Allen (Kerry) Mills and Thurland Chattaway wrote this tune in  1907. Mills spent twenty years trying to keep up with current musical trends and fads. With Red Wing he was addressing a craze for Native American (Indian)-themed compositions established in 1902 by the publication of Hiawatha by Charles N. Daniels (as Neil Moret). So Mills composed a standard pop tune and titled it with a Native American name, supplying a cover to match the theme (with the Native American woman wearing lipstick and rogue and sporting a male Indian headdress in American patriotic colors). (from “Perfessor” Bill Edwards

Although considered offensive by many, the tune for Red Wing is a popular fiddle number and Woody Guthrie took the tune and wrote his famous Union Maid song using it (“Oh you can’t scare me I stickin’ with the Union”). The lyrics to Union Maid are still in copyright (Ludlow Music, Inc., 1940, copyright renewed 1961 and 1963).

Because of the copyright I can neither print the lyrics or record Union Maid. Instead I’m recording Red Wing to show how folk singer’s borrowed tunes.

OTHER TITLES AND VARIATIONS:

  • Union Maid (Woody Guthrie) tune only

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: Lawrence Welk Show

Red Wing

There once was an Indian maid,
A shy little prairie maid,
Who sang all dat, a love song gay,
As on the plain she’d while away the day;

She loved a warrior bold,
This shy little maid of old,
But brave and gay, he rode one day
To battle far away.

Now, the moon shines tonight on pretty Red Wing
The breeze is sighing, the night bird’s crying,
For afar ‘neath his star her brave is sleeping,
While Red Wing’s weeping her heart away.

She watched for him day and night,
She kept all the campfires bright,
And under the sky, each night she would lie,
And dream about his coming by and by;

But when all the braves returned,
The heart of Red Wing yearned,
For far, far away, her warrior gay,
Fell bravely in the fray.

Now, the moon shines tonight on pretty Red Wing
The breeze is sighing, the night bird’s crying,
For afar ‘neath his star her brave is sleeping,
While Red Wimg’s weeping her heart away.

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
  • Country Music Sources: A Biblio-Discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music, Guthrie T. Meade, Jr. with Dick Spottswood and Douglas S. Meade, Southern Folklife Collection, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries, NC 2002—Amazon Books

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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