“Rockin’ Red Wing”: New Spin on an Old Tune

I first learned of the song “Red Wing” from Asleep at the Wheel’s 1993 tribute album to Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys that features two original members of the Texas Playboys, Eldon Shamblin and Johnny Gimble.  I somewhat assumed Bob Wills had written the tune, but no – Kerry Mills & Thurland Chattaway put it to paper in 1907, Mills having adapted the music from an 1848 Robert Schumann piece (“The Happy Farmer Returning from Work“).

In 1959 Sammy Masters updated the song not only with a “new” rock beat but also a more contemporary storyline and thus, “Rockin’ Red Wing” was born:

This song was originally released in 1959 on fledgling label, Warner Brothers, but going nowhere – according to 45cat – until reissued in 1960 on Lode, at which point the song found its footing and climbed the pop charts to #64.

Rockin Red Wing - Sammy Masters 45

Original lyrics:

There once was an Indian maid,
A shy little prairie maid,
Who sang a lay, a love song gay,
As on the plain she’d while away the day;

She loved a warrior bold,
This shy little maid of old,
But brave and gay, he rode one day
To battle far away.

Updated lyrics:

There once lived an Indian maid
A teenage Indian maid
Who heard one day her radio play
And the rock an’ roller stole her heart away

And now every single night
All around the campfire bright
All the braves they yearn just to take their turn
And dance with their heart’s delight

Oh yeah, let’s rock, rock tonight with Rockin’ Red Wing
While the tom tom’s wailin’, her feet are sailin’
Oh yeah, let’s rock, rock tonight with Rockin’ Red Wing
A little Indian maiden loves to rock and roll

Time Machine:  Three Years in Reverse

Several years prior Sammy Masters teamed up with guitar legend, Jimmy Bryant, on two songs, “Pink Cadillac” and “Whop-T-Bop” – both released on 4-Star in 1956.