Walter Brennan: Old Rivers Meaning
Song Released: 1962
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Old Rivers Lyrics
I can't remember when he weren't around
Well, that old fellow did a heap of work
Spent his whole life walking plowed ground.
He had a one-room shack not far from us
And well, we was about as...
anonymous Aug 18th, 2019 8:04pm report
There are several themes explored in this unusual song about the hard life of what I assume was a black sharecropper and the boy who admired him. The way of life described was passing in the early 1960s as farming in the South and Midwest was becoming mechanized. So nostalgia for a simpler time when farm work was hard was understandable to the many thousands of rural folks and other survivors of the Great Depression living in 1962. Another theme is the relief from toil that death will bring when Old Rivers, the boy, and all of us "climb that mountain and walk up there". Finally, as a farmer myself I can relate that farm boys follow their fathers, or father figures, and "tag along after them'".
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