SHENANDOAH - chords and comments

Lyrics without distraction HERE

Recently, I had an accident in my library reminding me of a song I hated and refused to sing in my youth. Doesn't it sound reasonable? Well, the world is full of coincidences. And by the way, I hated singing ANY song until my voice stopped cracking all the time.
Pulling a drawer, that fifty years old construction finally collapsed, and I got some 500 titles in my head in an "novelanche" that covered up half the floor. Tidying up and sorting out the mess, I came across a book I obviously have inherited from my grandpa, because he has signed it "Christmas 1948". Myself, I have co-signed it, but never bothered to read it. I decided to finally do that, whilst reconstructing that swedish wooden disaster. The book was "Company of Adventurers" wriiten by biographer Louise Hall Tharp in 1946, about Hudson's Bay Company and the pioneer trappers of the woodlands in Canada and North America.
image of canoes In one of the first chapters an Oneida chief "Skenandoa" was mentioned; a stout six feet five man who corporated with the fur traders. He was later baptized; taking the name "John Skenandoa" and fought in the 7-year war on the British side and for the colonials in the American Revolutionary War. All of a sudden I understood something that irritated me at junior high school.
We had a musical teacher who was a kind lady, but always taking the easy way out. Trying to teach us pop and rock loving rascals guitar, she chose the song "Oh Shenandoah" from the lousy songbook, because it can be played with only two chords, and even with only one single if you couldn't manage to change. The song was truncated, and one verse said "Oh Shenandoah; I love your daughter". A river having a daughter? Stupid. I was engaged in the pupil's council, and shirked these lessons as often I could find an excuse, and they were many. And besides I had already learned guitar basics on my own.
Well, Shenandoah IS a river, a historical one, 57 miles long, starting at Front Royal, Virginia and running into the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry. But I really don't think this have anything to do with the song, becausen it refers to the "wide Missouri", which certainly runs far away ... and they are never connected.
The origin of this song is uttermost hazy, but from the melody and harmonies you can tell it's celtic. Very many of the pioneer trappers way up north were immigrants from Scotland and Ireland. The song is often referred to as a "shanty", makin me think it first was used as a rowing boat song paddling the canoes on the watersheds, hunting beaver. The lead singer telling the story, and the rest joining on "away ...". Words have been added and changed from place to place without any special reason, and the common versions of our time are a holy mix and porridge of words with no meaning at all.
Well, now my ancient shelves are restored, bolted and secured for eternity, and that good old book is finally read. I leave you lyrics from prior to 1860, collected by W.B. Whall in 1910. At least they reflect the reality.
A            Amaj7       A7
Missouri she's a mighty river
  D   Bm          A    ...A7
away you rolling river
     F#m            C#m         D
the redskins' camp lies on its borders
  A    Amaj7      C#m   D         F#m      E  A
away   I'm bound away   cross the wide Missouri

the white man loved the Indian maiden
away you rolling river
with notions his canoe was laden
away ... I'm bound away ... cross the wide Missouri

"Oh Shenandoah : I love your daughter"
away you rolling river
"I'll take her 'cross yon rolling water"
away ... I'm bound away ... cross the wide Missouri

the chief disdained the trader's dollars
away you rolling river
"my daughter never you shall follow"
away ... I'm bound away ... cross the wide Missouri

at last there came a yankee skipper
away you rolling river
He winked his eye and tipped his flipper
away ... I'm bound away ... cross the wide Missouri

he sold the chief that fire-water
away you rolling river
and 'cross the river he stole his daughter
away ... I'm bound away ... cross the wide Missouri

Shenandoah : I long to hear you
away you rolling river
crying down that river near you
away ... I'm bound away ... cross the wide Missouri
A major
A seventh
A major seventh
D major
E major
B minor
C sharp minor
F sharp minor