Henry's Songbook

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Roll On Columbia

  • (Woody Guthrie / Michael Loring)

    Roll on, Columbia, roll on, roll on, Columbia, roll on
    Your power is turning our darkness to dawn
    Roll on, Columbia, roll on

    Green Douglas fir where the water cuts through
    Down her wild canyons and mountains she flew
    Canadian Northwest to the ocean so blue
    It's roll on, Columbia, roll on

    Other great rivers add power to you
    Yakima, Snake, and the Klickitat, too
    Sandy, Williamette, and Hood River, too
    It's roll on, Columbia, roll on

    At Bonneville now there are ships in the locks
    The water has risen and cleared all the rocks
    Soon shiploads of plenty will sail through your docks
    So roll on, Columbia, roll on

    On up the river is Grand Coulee Dam
    The mightiest thing ever built by a man
    To run the great factories and water our land
    It's roll on, Columbia, roll on

    These mighty men labored by day and by night
    Matching their strength 'gainst the river's wild flight
    Through rapids and falls they won the hard fight
    Roll on, Columbia, roll on

    (as sung by Judy Collins)

    Tune: Goodnight Irene

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1961:] A Washington State Senator told Jenny Vincent recently (after hearing her perform this song) that the singing of Roll On Columbia in the State Legislature would have been more effective than a dozen speeches in getting a public works appropriation passed. The third verse is by Michael Loring. (Reprint Sing Out 3, 140)

  • [1980:] [Working for the Bonneville Power Administration, Woody] burst out of his dry spell spectacularly. It wasn't simply that he wrote twenty-six, or however many, songs in the thirty days he was employed by the BPA (twenty-six would become the usual, if unverifiable, figure). It was the maturity, grace, brilliance and diversity of the songs he wrote - anthems, work songs, ballads, talking blues. [...] "Roll On, Columbia" was a stately and elegant waltz (to the tune of Leadbelly's "Irene") that evoked the majesty of the lower river as it flowed into the sea. [Woody's] songs were beginning to sound like Walt Whitman's poetry, drunk with details. In "Roll On, Columbia", he felt the need to list all the river's tributaries. [...] Each day he'd go out in a BPA car and inspect a different portion of the river. The idea that the government was building all these massive dams was especially thrilling. It was what socialism would be like when it came to the United States. He loved to commune with the thousands of construction workers [...]. (Klein, Woody Guthrie 194f)

  • [1982:] Bis 1932 wurde Elektrizität im Westen der USA nur von privaten Gesellschaften hergestellt. Ihre Hochspannungsleitungen führten nur in die großen Städte, wo sie hohen Profit erwarteten. Im Zuge des New Deal wurden öffentliche Elektrizitätsgesellschaften gegründet, um auch abgelegene Gebiete versorgen zu können. Die Regierung gründete die Bonneville Power Administration, die eine Serie von Staudämmen im Tal des Columbia bauen sollte. Die privaten Gesellschaften machten eine große Werbekampagne gegen dieses Projekt. Der damals schon bekannte Sänger Woody Guthrie (1912 - 1967) wurde von den öffentlichen Gesellschaften für 30 Tage eingestellt, um Lieder für sie zu schreiben. Daraus entstanden Grand Coulee Dam, The biggest thing that man has ever done und Roll On, Columbia. (Liedercircus 48)

Quelle: USA

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aktualisiert am 02.05.2002