(Words by Grian McGregor; tune by Jay Ungar)
The sun is sinking low in the sky above Ashokan,
The pines and the willows know soon we will part.
There's a whisper in the wind of promises unspoken,
And a love that will always remain in my heart.
My thoughts will return to the sound of your laughter,
The magic of moving as one.
And a time we'll remember long ever after
The moonlight and music and dancing are done.
Will we climb the hills once more?
Will we walk the woods together?
Will I feel you holding me close once again?
Will every song we've sung stay with us forever?
Will you dance in my dreams or my arms until then?
Under the moon the mountains lie sleeping,
Over the lake the stars shine.
They wonder if you and I will be keeping,
The magic and music, or leave them behind.
Some local lore from Michael K:
"Ashokan Farewell" (made famous by the Ken Burn's Civil War Public TV series) may not be a Civil War original, but the Ashokan area of the Catskill Mountains has a long a fascinating history, and includes some of the most beautiful land anywhere. I lived there for a time in 1968-9, and the mere mention of the name Ashokan moves something deep in my soul. Steep, thickly wooded mountainsides; deeply shadowed hollows; hidden waterfalls and caves; rushing creeks; and dramatic glacial rock formations are just a few of the natural attractions.
The area derives an added aura of mystery from the fact that eight local villages were inundated upon the creation of the Ashokan Reservoir in 1914. A sensational aspect of this event was the removal from thirty-two cemeteries of two thousand eight hundred bodies or skeletons, including those of many soldiers of the Revolution, and their reinterment in new pine boxes in neighboring graveyards.
"Finally, at noon of June 19, 1914, the blowing of all the steam whistles in the reservoir area for one solid hour announced the completion of the dikes and dams of the reservoir. The farms and villages were left to the rush of the oncoming waters, under which, to this day, the foundations of old houses and sites of well-remembered orchards and gardens are visible at low water."
I found it impossible to go near the reservoir without thinking of this "underwater ghost town;" it always gave me a chill.
If you have ever heard The Band, their music expresses some of
the mood and atmosphere of this area. "Big Pink," the
house the group lived in while preparing their first album, is in
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