“Ten Thousand Miles Away (On the Banks of Lonely River)”


The singer recalls his aged mother "on the banks of a lonely river, Ten thousand miles away." He wishes he (were a little bird so he could be) with her. A letter from his sister says his mother has died; he wishes she were there. He prays for his mother


Several of Randolph's informants credited this to a Missouri musician named Hubbard. Given the general feebleness of the song, it is quite likely that it comes from such an obscure source. The presence of the North Carolina texts, however, argues that it is not local to the Ozarks. - RBW

Broadside LOCSheet sm1882 16161: "composed by I.M. Williams" whatever that means. Is it a coincidence that the publisher is so close to the Ozarks?

[NovaScotia1] begins "In youth I craved adventure To Australia I did stray, I left my home and mother For a fortune far away, She bade me not to leave her Or to return some day To the banks of far off Claudy Ten thousand miles away." This verse is missing from LOCSheet sm1882 16161, which begins with the letter verse, followed by the dream verse.- BS

Cross references


  • LOCSheet, sm1882 16161, "Ten Thousand Miles Away on the Banks of a Lonely River," Balmer & Weber (Saint Louis), 1882 (tune)


  • Asa Martin & Doc Roberts, "I Must See My Mother" (Champion 16568, 1933; Champion 45176, c. 1935; rec. 1932; on KMM [as Martin & Hobbs])
  • Fred Redden, "The Banks of Claudy" (on NovaScotia1)


  1. Randolph 697, "Ten Thousand Miles Away" (1 text plus a fragment, 1 tune)
  2. BrownII 170, "The Homesick Boy" (2 texts)
  3. Roud #3514
  4. BI, R697


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1882 (broadside, LOCSheet sm1882 16161)
Found in: US(Ap,SE,So) Canada(Mar)