Woody Guthrie – Roll on Colombia – a song about hydro-electric power from back in the 40s!!

Woody Guthrie – Roll on Colombia – a song about hydro-electric power from back in the 40s!!

Woody was way ahead of his time. He was hired by the Bonneville Power Administration in Oregon to provide music for a film they were making on hydroelectric power and the damning of the Colombia River. Woody saw this as a great opportunity to bring cheap power and employment to the area. He thought it would greatly benefit the working man.

To that end Woody wrote a whole stack of songs in a couple of weeks many of which came out on his wonderful Columbia River Collection.

There are problems, such as fish migration and navigation associated with damning rivers but there are ways of dealing with these.

Woody was right: sustainable power is the way forward!

Roll on Colombia
Words by Woody Guthrie, Music based on “Goodnight, Irene” (Huddie Ledbetter and John Lomax)

Green Douglas firs where the waters cut through.
Down her wild mountains and canyons she flew.
Canadian Northwest to the ocean so blue,
Roll on, Columbia, roll on!

CHORUS: Roll on, Columbia, roll on.
Roll on, Columbia, roll on.
Your power is turning our darkness to dawn,
Roll on, Columbia, roll on.

Other great rivers add power to you,
Yakima, Snake and the Klickitat, too,
Sandy Willamette and Hood River, too;
Roll on, Columbia, roll on.

CHORUS

Tom Jefferson’s vision would not let him rest,
An empire he saw in the Pacific Northwest.
Sent Lewis and Clark and they did the rest;
Roll on, Columbia, roll on.

CHORUS

It’s there on your bank that we fought many a fight,
Sheridan’s boys in the blockhouse that night,
They saw us in death but never in flight,
Roll on, Columbia, roll on.

CHORUS

At Bonneville now there are ships in the locks,
The waters have risen and cleared all the rocks,
Shiploads of plenty will steam past the docks,
Roll on, Columbia, roll on.

CHORUS

And on up the river is Grand Coulee Dam,
The mightiest thing ever built by a man,
To run these great factories and water the land,
It’s roll on, Columbia, roll on.

CHORUS

These might men labored by day and by night,
Matching their strength ‘gainst the river’s wild flight,
Through rapids and falls they won the hard fight,
Roll on, Columbia, roll on.

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