“Roll On, Columbia”

Author: Woody Guthrie
Earliest date: 1941
Keywords: technology nonballad river


Tribute to the Columbia River, the development along it, and the Bonneville Power Administration that manages both: "Roll on Columbia, roll on (x2), Your power is turning our darkness to dawn, So roll on, Columbia, roll on."


I've seen people claim that the tune Woody used was "Goodnight Irene"; others say it's "My Bonnie." I guess he managed to modify it enough to fool at least a few people.... - RBW

"My Bonnie"? Naah. This is "Goodnight Irene", almost unchanged. - PJS

Obviously true of the chorus. The verse has been altered to a greater degree. Not that it really matters. - RBW

Cross references



  1. Scott-BoA, pp. 348-349, "Roll On, Columbia" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Lomax-FSNA 233, "Roll On, Columbia" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Arnett, pp. 166-167, "Roll On, Columbia" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. BI, SBoA348