Black Waters (Jean Ritchie)

“Black Waters” Sheet Music (pdf).
“Black Waters” Karaoke (midi with lyrics).

Lyrics: Jean Ritchie.
Tune: Jean Ritchie.


I come from the mountains; Kentucky’s my home,
Where the wild deer and the black bear so lately did roam.
By cool, rushing waterfalls, the wild flowers dreamed,
And through every green valley, there ran a clear stream.
Now, there’re scenes of destruction on every hand,
And only black waters run down through my land.

Sad scenes of destruction on every hand;
Black waters, black waters run down through our land.

Oh, the quail, she’s a pretty bird; she sings a sweet tongue.
In the roots of tall timbers, she nests with her young.
But the hillside explodes with the dynamite’s roar,
And the voices of the small birds will sound there no more.
And the hillsides come a-sliding so awful and grand,
And the flooding black waters rise over my land.

Sad scenes of destruction on every hand;
Black waters, black waters run down through the land.

In the rising of the springtime, we planted our corn.
In the ending of the springtime, we buried a son.
In the summer came a nice man who said, “All was fine.
My employer just required a way to his mine.”
Then, they threw down my mountain and covered my corn.
Now, the grave on the hillside’s a mile deeper down.
And the man stood and talked with his hat in his hand,
As the poisonous water spread over my land.

Sad scenes of destruction on every hand;
Black waters, black waters run down through the land.

Well, I ain’t got no money and not much of a home.
I own my own land, but my land’s not my own.
But if I had ten million, somewhere thereabouts,
I would buy Perry County, and I’d run ’em all out!
I’d set down on the bank with my bait in my can
And just watch the clear waters run down through my land!

Well, wouldn’t that be like the old Promised Land?
Black waters, black waters no more on my land!


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