"Slate River Waltz"

© 1976 Lee Ruth

Composed 8/17/1976

MP3
Michael Cochran
Michael Cochran - Vocal & Guitars
Ken Shepherd
- Harmony Vocal
Jerry Foster
- Harmony Vocal
  MP3 Sample of Lee's Original

 

Song Lyrics:
Lee's Lyrics:
Oh the Slate River runs / through the Slate River Valley
And the Slate River Valley / runs right through my heart.
And sometimes I sing / this song of the mountains
The beautiful Slate River Waltz
Oh the waters run down / from Gothic and Gunsight
And Daisy and Paradise / they all play a part
And Coal Creek ain't far / below Oh Be Joyful
For the beautiful Slate River Waltz
Till the waterfalls freeze / and the wood smokes the chimneys
And the powdery snow / takes the skiers away
I'll be right at home / in the heart of Missouri
Slate River will be far away
Till summer comes calling / me back to the mountains
I'll grab my guitar / load up the car / and I'll be on my way
Fill 'er up / check the oil / kick the tires and start the engine
Slate River I'm comin' your way
Where the Slate River runs / through the Slate River Valley
And the Slate River Valley / runs right through my heart
And I love to sing / this song of the mountains
The beautiful Slate River Waltz
Oh the Slate River runs through the Slate River Valley
And the Slate River Valley runs right though my heart
And sometimes my heart sings this song of the mountains
The beautiful Slate River Waltz

Oh the waters run down from Gothic and Gunsight
And Daisy and Paradise you all play a part
And Coal Creek ain't far below Oh-Be-Joyful
At the beautiful Slate River Waltz

I love Crested Butte, Colorado, and all of my friends there
Wherever I go I can take them along (whether they like it or not)
And I love to sing this song that you hear
The beautiful Slate River Waltz

When the waterfalls freeze and the wood smokes the chimney
And the powdery snow takes the skiers away
I'll be right at home in the heart of Missouri
Slate River will be far away

'Til the summer comes calling me back to the mountains
I'll grab my guitar, load up the car, and I'll be on my way
Fill 'er up, check the oil, kick the tires, start the engine
Slate River I'm coming today

To where the Slate River runs through the Slate River Valley
And the Slate River Valley runs right through my heart
And sometimes my heart sings this song of the mountains
The beautiful Slate River Waltz
The Beautiful Slate River Waltz
Waltz

Artist on the Song:
Lee on the Song:

I feel connected to "Slate River Waltz" for a couple of reasons. I lived in Crested Butte, Colorado, near the Slate River, back in 1969-70. About 20 years later, I joined Lee at the Crested Butte Folk Festival where we performed as a duo and I heard him sing the song for the first time. Thus, while I love and admire all Lee's songs, "Slate River Waltz" was a natural choice to be my contribution to the project.

The recording of the song Lee sent to me showcases his anciently resonant voice. When his quavering, sweet, nasal baritone holds an extended vowel tone, you wonder if the tinge you're hearing is Irish, Welsh, or just pure American. To learn the words and melody, I practiced the song acappella and in so doing evolved a feel for it born out of my own mountain valley experiences. When guitar accompaniment was added, different chords emerged in correspondence to that feel, and that's how I arrived at my arrangement of "Slate River Waltz." I am honored to present it.

In mid-August of 1976 I was nearing the end of my fifth summer spent in Crested Butte, Colorado, living the good life of a "summer local," and soon to be heading home to Columbia. It had been a great summer of hiking and camping, good company and music, and I had enhanced my friendships with many Crested Butte residents, as well as with Townes Van Zandt, a fellow summer local, soon to be on his way home to Austin, Texas. On the 17th, I wrote the title and a bunch of verses to "Slate River Waltz" onto several pages in my current notebook and came up with a melody for it. Back in Columbia in the fall, I wrote a many-versed version of the song, which contained the names of dozens of friends and numerous locales. I never did memorize the long version, and after recording it one time to send back to Crested Butte friends I proceeded to edit it down to five verses. "Slate River Waltz" was one of my big numbers the next summer in Crested Butte, though some of my friends were disappointed I wasn't singing the long version with their names in it. Michael's version here edits out another verse, and I think the song is stronger and tighter for his having done so. (I haven't decided yet whether to start singing it "his way".)
Artist on Lee Ruth:
Lee on the Artist:

In the fall of 1962, I was a first-semester freshman at the University of Missouri. Three days a week, during astronomy class, I found myself sitting next to a big, redheaded guy named Lee Ruth. When I wasn't sure about something being discussed in class, Lee would usually be able to explain it to me.

One day later that fall, I was in my dorm room playing my electric guitar. My big Silvertone amplifier was pointed toward the open window, broadcasting at a volume slightly louder than needed. I was playing Chet Atkins's arrangement of "Caravan" with the vague hope that a beautiful girl walking by outside would hear it and come running into my room to be ravished. Instead, Lee Ruth walked in. We looked at each other in sudden recognition, and Lee said, "I heard you through the window. That's Chet Atkins's version of `Caravan!'" And I said, "You're a Chet fan?" And Lee said, "Oh yeah. I know how to play a bunch of his stuff." We've been close friends ever since.

I take this opportunity to confirm that the quality of life on this planet has been made better by the presence of Lee Ruth. Thank you for the beautiful music, Lee, and thank God for you.

Michael and I were first-year students at the University of Missouri in the fall of 1962, and we sat next to each other in William Hughes's Astronomy I class. (It was a great class.) Somewhere in mid-semester we discovered that we both played guitar (our recollections differ as to just how we learned this) and had a mutual love for the playing of Chet Atkins. We soon got together to trade licks and songs and liked each other's playing. He played lots more Chet than I did (still does), but I played more rockabilly, blues, and folk, so we had a lot of music to show and share. We've been good friends, musical and otherwise, for over forty years now. One of my favorite gigs of all time was a handful of nights we played as a duo at The Gladstone Manufacturing Company in 1977. Also in 1977, first week in August, Michael was the first of only a handful of Missouri friends to ever come visit me in Crested Butte, and I was pleased to have the opportunity to share him and his musical talents with my Crested Butte friends, as he and I partnered up on stage for my Festival of the Arts gig (my best gig of the summer). He had once lived in Crested Butte and that time, plus the days he spent there in the summer of '77, provided him with firsthand knowledge of the song's setting.
Producer's Notes:
Recording Credits:
Michael is one of Lee's oldest musical friends and when we contacted him about doing a song he wanted to do "Slate River Waltz." This song is one of Lee's Crested Butte tunes and since Michael had actually seen this mountain stream the song became his to explore. Michael talked to me about his version of the song and his concern about the time length of the tune. I told him I would hate to shorten the length of a river or a waltz. Michael really wanted to convey the feeling of being in the mountains. I believe if you close your eyes and listen close, you can hear the cascades of water spilling out of his guitar.

Recorded at Pete Szkolka's Studio

Record Date: 5/29/03

Mixed: 11/12/03

Mixed by Pete Szkolka and Steve Donofrio

 

Home
The Project
Songs & Artists
Credits
Guestbook
Order Form
News & Reviews
Patrons