Home to Slope County

Home to Slope County

This song is a product of my own observation, teaching at North Dakota State University, a college of democracy where young people of quite different backgrounds meet and mate, for life if they're lucky. NDSU is the college of choice for a lot of kids from farms and ranches and small towns, not only because of its aggie roots but also because, like other land-grant universities in the West, it is regarded as accessible. We also get a lot of kids from urban areas, too, whose parents figure Fargo is pretty safe and NDSU looks like what college is supposed to be. Anyway, it is a place where matches are made. In this (purely fictional, although nothing really is) song, I've matched a city gal with a real aggie from Slope County, North Dakota, and if you know anything about Slope County (a locality where work and pleasure has taken me frequently), then you understand the situation right away.

So far two middle-aged women have asked me if I wrote this song about their daughters.

Home to Slope County
Copyright 1995 Tom Isern
I courted you in the Red River Valley--
You remember the promises said.
Now the snows all are gone, and the leaves coming on,
And you fear that it's time that we wed.

No promise can ever deliver
A lover who longs to be free,
So consider a while, sit with me, and I'll
Tell you just how it will be.

I'll take you home to Slope County in the spring,
When the coulees sing with the melting snow,
You can hear the prairie stir and grow,
I'll take you home to Slope County in the spring.
Can you live far away from the city?
Will you miss the bright lights and your friends?
Do you think that your life, if you are my wife,
Will blow away in the west Dakota wind?

You'll have a home on the Little Missouri;
You'll find neighbors, though distant, are true;
You'll have lambs bottle-fed and sunsets of red,
And you'll have my love for you.

I'll take you home to Slope County in the spring,
Where the purple buttes define the sky,
And a hundred golden eagles fly,
I'll take you home to Slope County in the spring.
In Slope County the calving will be finished;
We'll ride through the hills side by side.
There's a saddle well-tooled and a mare that is schooled
To carry my Red River bride.

Oh don't you see those turtle doves
Flying in that chokecherry tree?
Hear the fluttering wing and the song that they sing,
Just for my love and me.

I'll take you home to Slope County in the spring,
When the wild plum blossom scents the air,
Like the bridal flowers in your hair,
I'll take you home to Slope County in the spring.