‘The River, she is flowing, flowing and growing
The River, she is flowing back to the sea.
Oh, Mother carry me – a child I will always be.
Oh, Mother carry me, back to the sea.
Back to the sea.”
The informant learned this song at a summer camp called the Green River Preserve in North Carolina. It was a song that they would sing on the bus on the way to a hiking site or sometimes in the evening around the camp fire. It was “theoretically a Native American song” though she wasn’t sure about that. She said that if her friends ask her to sing a song and she’s not warmed up she would sing this song because “it’s an easy song and it sounds nice”. She said it was “rather haunting and almost relaxing.”
I think it makes sense that this folk song was a song from a summer camp, as they are typically for children and the line, “Oh, Mother carry me – a child I will always be” is clearly relevant for children. For a young adult to be singing this song also makes sense as being college aged is this interesting time, that some refer to as emerging adulthood, where one is in a liminal stage between adulthood and childhood and this song expresses a resistance to growing up. I also think it is particularly suited to a young woman who moved across the country from North Carolina to Los Angeles to miss her home state and the land there. The East Coast actually has rivers that are not paved in concrete and so an organic notion of a river would likely remind the informant of her home, as this song clearly references as the river in it is “flowing and growing back to the sea.” The folkness of the song, in that it seems to be a song written by the people of her home state would also suggest a certain nostalgia is at play here.