Oregon Coast Fishing, Guides and Charters! Seaside, Astoria, Tillamook Bay, The Wilson, The Kilchis, The Trask, The Nestucca, The Nehalem, The Necanicum, Youngs Bay, The Columbia River and the Washington tributaries of the lower Columbia estuaries.

Roll On,
Columbia, Roll On!

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David James Duncan
Author of
The River Why

Roll On Columbia...
"A repair job" by David James Duncan


I'd got skunked on the Deschutes with one of my pals,
drunk too much Glen Fiddich in downtown, The Dalles.
Then failed to conceal it, when we phoned up our gals.
Mine said, "Better not drive, you morons!"


So we stayed in a motel to avoid the State Cops.
And our beds had machines that for two bits a pop
produced cute little earthquakes while sleep we did drop
as outside the Columbia rolled on.


But I'd just drifted off when my spirit awoke
to the sound of a guitar and a sad voice that spoke.
In a sweet oaky twang taylor made to sing folk
while outside the Columbia rolled on.


"Dave", the voice said. "This isn't no joke.
I've been Shanghai to limbo for a song I once wrote.
The BPA paid for it. Sh**, I was broke.
It's called Roll on, Columbia, Roll on."


The song brags up the river, and that part deserves fame.
It's the braggin 'bout factories and dams that was lame.
Can you take down dictation so I can salvage my name?
I said "You betcha Woody, go on...."

Then he sang...
Roll on, Columbia Roll on.
Roll on, Columbia Roll on.
Once a free flowing river, now a big poison pond.
But Roll on, Columbia Roll on.
(That's the chorus)


When I fled from the dustbowl and first saw your dams,
I was awed by the power, and blind to the scams.
That'd one day disperse you all over dry land.
But, Roll On, Columbia Roll On.


Those same mighty dams stopped the great salmon runs.
Turned the world's best fishery into pulp mills and lawns.
Now your June hawgs and Sockeyes and Coho are gone.


Roll On, Columbia Roll on.
Roll on, Columbia Roll on!
Roll on, Columbia Roll on!
Once a free flowing river, now a big poison pond.
Roll on, Columbia Roll on!


Big Douglas fir stumps where your channel cuts through
Remind us of beauty our fore bearers once knew.
But if you want to find wildlife, better look in the zoo.
Roll on, Columbia Roll on.


The Yakima, Snake and The Willamette too
Add toxins, dioxins, and cow shit to you.
Insecticides, pesticides, human doo doo.
But Roll on, Columbia Roll on.


(...Everybody!)
Roll on, Columbia Roll on!
Roll on, Columbia Roll on!
Once a free flowing river, now a big poison pond.
Roll on, Columbia Roll on!
(That's a little better!)


Your water use laws are a huge public con.
So in summer you become a huge public john.
Where wind surfers grow tumors, while squawfish grow brawn
But Roll on, Columbia Roll On!


Meanwhile upriver on The Great Hanford Reach
They're growing brain power to plug nuclear leaks
By turning our kids into three headed freaks


But Roll on, Columbia Roll on!
Roll on, Columbia Roll on!
Roll on, Columbia Roll on!
Once a free flowing river, now a big poison pond.
Roll on, Columbia Roll on!


When Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to the West
an empire of small farmers was the dream he loved best
Not a plague of huge factories all shittin' their nest
But, Roll on, Columbia, Roll on!


Now your industries grind Mama Earth into hash
Creatin' extinctions to line pockets with cash
And if we cry, "It's a crime!" They say, "Let's not be rash!"
Let's sing, Roll on, Columbia, Roll on!
(So we fixed it!)

Roll on, Columbia Roll on!
Roll on, Columbia Roll on!
Once a free flowing river, now a big poison pond.
Roll on, Columbia Roll on!


Dave Speaking..
"I can't do the last verse right, because it ought to have this
great thrumming and humming in the sky over the river,
maybe choirs of angels, and ghost dancers and dam buried river rock rapids
and choirs of seas birds and shore birds and blue birds and water birds
and insects and plants all humming in the background,
and Woody's freed spirit should rise up out of limbo, as he sings,"


Rain on mountain makes river.
That's the law on this earth.
The wild waters will keep coming till that law is reversed.
And dams can be unbuilt to show folks their worth of a land
where free rivers flow on.
The sunlight, the wind, the great rivers shall last.
It's industrial madness that one day shall pass.
Sweet Columbia's just waitin' for the day that we all ask
where our beautiful river has gone?


Thanks, Dave....

Dammit
Step up, one more, you can do it, fish...step again!
Turn left, step again, you can do it, step again!
Hope the water temperature is okay!
You're almost to the spawning grounds!
Keep going, don't give up now!

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