Arguably one of the most beautiful melancholic true American pieces of music you will ever hear. It belongs to the U.S. and has been sung around the world….and as such, belongs to all people. Like many of us U.S. Americans, this song is a blending of many cultures and stories. There is the story of first nation man Shenandoah who aided the new republic in defeating the British. Though he was true and valiant, he saw his people and lands ultimately diminish. It is said he stood 6’5″ and was a great war chief. The story in the original version alludes to a seven year courtship a trader held for Shenandoah’s daughter. He brought the chief a canoe full of gifts, but was rejected. Later, he brought liquor, and thus, when the chief was under the influence, he stole her away. Shenandoah’s life existed far away from the Missouri River. So how did this river become a part of the song? Well, this song was a well used shanty sang by sailors who worked the boats from the Missouri, down through the Mississippi, and eventually onto the ocean faring ships….which made it a global song. Apparently, this is where the marriage of the river, the native princess and the men came together. The story of a man’s love and his willingness to risk his life for that love was just too much not to sing about. It was a man’s song about a man, his desire and unfulfilled love. The river and its unrelenting power gives a beautiful metaphor for leaving, adventure and the power of love.There are many versions. The original likely carried a medium upbeat tempo. The meanings behind all of the versions take on a certain abstract interpretation that transcends any one simple story. But no matter the version, the tune stays constant, and sends the listener to distant places. Like a great river, this song is a confluence of stories that by themselves are wonderful, but together make for something words cannot describe. It is a song for the world.