Lord have mercy on my mind,
mercy on my memory.
I'm lying beneath the same Virginia sky
Where she laid beside me, biding time.
Trying to abide me.
Every night when the night was long, she was clinging to me.
Told me twice that her love was strong, stronger than the love in old love songs she was singing to me.

Oh, Shenandoah, 'cross the rolling water.
Oh, Shenandoah, where's your restless daughter?

Don't know what I gave them for,
all my little lessons.
How you start the peas before the corn,
how you start before the air is warm.
She was never listenin'.
I could see there in her sorry eyes,
hear it in her breathing.
Didn't come to me like some surprise, didn't even ask her why,
When she said "I'm leavin."

Oh, Shenandoah,
cross the rolling water.
Oh, Shenandoah, where's your willful daughter?

I brought in the winter squash,
I brought in the melon.
Cortland, Empire, Macintosh,
On the afternoon before the frost.
I could feel it coming.
I can see her now in the flowery clothes,
all those things I bought her.
Trailing her perfume wherever she goes,
'cross the rolling water, Shenandoah,
Where's your reckless daughter?
Shenandoah, mercy on your daughter.



Lyrics submitted by elation army

Shenandoah song meanings
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5 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentThis song is a parent reminiscing about his/her daughter, who left the family farm for bigger and better things. Perhaps the daughter is meant to be Mitchell, who grew up on a sheep farm. I like how it's told from the parent's point of view, showing their love for her, but also their disappointment that she didn't stick around and carry on the family tradition.
    elation armyon June 08, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMaybe the parents realize how the times have changed and that their daughter want to do more than peoplo of their generation or something. I agree with you anyway, elation army. And her voice is really right for this song, it's a very sweet song.
    Megairaon August 02, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI can be a bit naïve when it comes to reading lyrics, so before I'd seen the two comments from 2007, I felt pretty certain this song was about a breakup. And I can still see that. But, on re-reading it, I suppose the the parent/child slant might be stronger. Anyone else have thoughts?
    redroversquaredon December 28, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn the old folk song, "Oh Shenendoah," a rover has left a daughter of Shenendoah, who he loves and has not seen for 7 years, and he yearns to return to Shenendoah to find her across the great Missouri. So the man suffers for the love of a woman.

    In this sequel, he has returned to Shenendoah, found his love, and she has sung him love songs. Then she betrays their love and leaves him (which is sort of karma, since he left her in the original song, and then wanted her back years later). Now he's toiling on the land of Shenendoah yearning for his love to return to him. The man suffers for the love of a woman again.

    Nothing much changes, I guess. :)
    yhtrownuon May 23, 2012   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningIt's about a young farmer whose lover left him. When they were together, he spent their nights teaching her about farming "how you start the peas before the corn", etc., but she was only interested in romance, "told me twice that her love was strong, stronger than the love in old love songs she was singing to me."

    When his lover went across the Missouri river in search of adventure and romantic love, the young farmer completely understood and simply let her go. But he's worried about her livelihood. When the winter comes, the farmer had a good harvest. He had winter squash, melon, and lots of apples ("Cortland, Empire, McIntosh" are all types of apples), but knowing his old lover who knew only romance, he's worried that she's not wearing enough for the cold ("I can see her now in the flowery clothes,
    all those things I bought her"), and that she would starve for not having food. And he prayed to the Lord that the winter would be mild, so that she would survive.

    Anais puts a wonderful and sorrowful twist on the kind of love traditionally portrayed in love songs. The young farmer was not romantic, but he had a genuine concern for the well being of the girl. As in many of her other songs (e.g. Hey, Little Songbird, Shepherd), she describes the conflicts between love and the struggle for survival.
    SirSosostrison August 31, 2013   Link

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