"Tecumseh Valley" as written by and Townes Van Zandt....
The name she gave was Caroline
Daughter of a miner
Her ways were free
It seemed to me
That sunshine walked beside her

She came from Spencer
Across the hill
She said her pa had sent her
'cause the coal was low
And soon the snow
Would turn the skies to winter

She said she'd come
To look for work
She was not seeking favors
And for a dime a day
And a place to stay
She'd turn those hands to labor

But the times were hard, Lord,
The jobs were few
All through Tecumseh valley
But she asked around
And a job she found
Tending bar at Gypsy Sally's

She saved enough to get back home
When spring replaced the winter
But her dreams were denied
Her pa had died
The word come down from Spencer

So she turned to whorin' out on the streets
With all the lust inside her
And it was many a man
Returned again
To lay himself beside her

They found her down beneath the stairs
That led to Gypsy Sally's
In her hand when she died
Was a note that cried
Fare thee well
Tecumseh valley

The name she gave was Caroline
Daughter of a miner
Her ways were free
It seemed to me
That sunshine walked beside her

Lyrics submitted by doqtor

"Tecumseh Valley" as written by Townes John Van Zandt


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Tecumseh Valley song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentAgreed...this is absolutely brilliant songwriting...folk storytelling at it's absolute best from Townes.

    The Nanci version is the best though, she interprets the song brilliantly like she always does.

    I'd love to see a filmmaker get a chance to make a film based on this song. I think this is one of the few songs (especially one less than 5 mins long) that you can actually do that with.
    gobosox5on September 18, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPhenomenal.
    jackhareon November 23, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is an extremely potent tale. An account from a male admirer or possibly one of her customers when she turned to prostitution. Maybe she confided in him her story of where she was from and while she came to tecumseh valley.Perhaps he fell in love with Caroline, and after she died beneath the stairs, he decided that her story had to be told, and he was the one responsible to tell it.

    Besides these inquiries, A Phenomenal song.. None Like it... Truly......
    ltripleyon December 07, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTownes Van Zandt is a great songwriter, but no one does this song like Nanci Griffith, with a little from Arlo Guthrie.
    rufustfireflyon May 28, 2010   Link

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