Follow the typical signs, the hand-painted lines, down
prairie roads.
Pass the lone church spire.
Pass the talking wire from where to who knows?
There's no way to divide the beauty of the sky from
the wild western plains.
Where a man could drift, in legendary myth, by
roaming over spaces.
The land was free and the price was right.

Dakota on the wall is a white-robed woman, broad
yet maidenly.
Such power in her hand as she hails the wagon man's
family.
I see Indians that crawl through this mural that
recalls our history.

Who were the homestead wives?
Who were the gold rush brides?
Does anybody know?
Do their works survive their yellow fever lives in the
pages they wrote?
The land was free, yet it cost their lives.

In miner's lust for gold.
A family's house was bought and sold, piece by
piece.
A widow staked her claim on a dollar and his name,
so painfully.
In letters mailed back home her Eastern sisters they
would moan
as they would read accounts of madness, childbirth,
loneliness and grief.


Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae

Gold Rush Brides song meanings
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6 Comments

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  • +3
    General Comment

    What a great ode to the women who tamed the wild west alongside their men. She probably got the idea for this song from reading Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey, which is an excellent book about how women sold the homes they loved, packed up their possessions and children, and left their families for an unknown trip to California.

    cruel shoeson July 02, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    One of my favorite songs off the last album, love the slide guitar. Yes, it's obviously about pioneer women, but could also be an allegory for anyone who sacrafices now for the hope of a better future.

    DevastatorJr.on October 05, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    On the live unplugged version of this song Natalie reads from the book 'Women's diaries of the Westward Journey' a section about childbirth, as intro to the song.

    pconlon March 24, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    I recently checked the "Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey" from the library and came across the section that Natalie Merchant read on the Unplugged version of this song. The passage was written by Nancy Hunt in the summer of 1854. Natalie truncated the passage, so I will provide it here.

    "While the young folks were having their good times, some of the mothers were giving birth to their babes: three babies were born in our company that summer. My cousin Emily Ibe...gave birth to a son in Utah, forty miles north of the Great Salt Lake, one evening; and the next morning she traveled on until noon, when a stop was made and another child was born -- this time Susan Longmire was the mother made happy by the advent of little Ellen. The third birth [was to] the wife of my cousin Jacob Zumwalt who gave birth to a daughter while traveling in the Sierra Nevada. To this baby they gave the name Alice Nevada."

    Whats interesting is that I googled the name Alice Nevada Zumwalt and, found that she was born on September 13, 1854 and died a year later on September 18, 1855. I also googled the name Ellen Longmire and she was born on June 29, 1854. I have googled Emily Ibe and can not find any information about her son, however, his date of birth is most likely June 28, 1854.

    BlueEyes8724on August 13, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This one is pretty obvious don't cha think?

    Tapies24on February 11, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    So sad if you think of these women as our peers. We have such comfortable lives compared to the sacrifices and hardships they endured. We wouldn't dare to imagine giving birth in those conditions, and how many babies/children would have been lost due to the difficult conditions.

    roo1on August 01, 2021   Link

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