Rivers of Texas

Photo by John C.H. Grabill, 1889

This is of course an old favorite with Texas songsters. The song's history is a little murky. The earliest reference I can find is from the 1930's. It is always attributed as "traditional" although to my ear it doesn't sound like a real traditional ballad. The verses are a bit too literary and the tune too nuanced. It is not strictly a ballad, not much narrative story, and it does not borrow any verses from other songs.

Anyway, it is a lovely piece and I'm happy to sing it.

Lyrics: 

We crossed the broad Pecos, we forded the Nueces
Swum the Guadalupe, we followed the Brazos
Red River runs rusty, the Wichita clear
But down by the Brazos I courted my dear

Li li li lee lee lee, give me your hand
Li li li lee lee lee, give me your hand
Li li li lee lee lee, give me your hand
There's many a river that waters the land

The sweet Angelina runs glossy and gliding
The crooked Colorado runs weaving and winding
The slow San Antonio courses the plain
But I never will walk by the Brazos again

Li li li lee lee lee pole the boat on
Li li li lee lee lee pole the boat on
Li li li lee lee lee pole the boat on
My Brazos river sweet heart has left me and gone

The girls on Little River, they're plump and they're pretty
The Sabine and Sulphur have many a beauty
And down by the Natchez there's girls by the score
But I never will walk by the Brazos no more

Li li li lee lee lee give me your hand . . .

She hugged me and kissed me and called me her dandy
The Trinity is muddy, the Brazos quick sandy
I hugged her and kissed her and called her my own
But down by the Brazos she left me alone

Li li li lee lee lee give me your hand . . .

Song sheet: 
Instruments: 
Tuning: 
C standard