Red Wing: Is it a Bird? or a an Indian Maiden?

Hello everyone,

The expression “red wing” can mean many different things to many different people.  To some, it may make them think of a beautiful red bird, named the Cardinal as you see in the picture to the left (click on the image to see an enlarged view).   At the same time, to others, it could conjure up images of a “fallen angel” or imp.   Then again it could bring up a memory of the name of some old WWI airplane.
However, to us in the bluegrass genre of music, the expression “Red Wing” always makes one think of the song entitled “Red Wing”.  According to Wikipedia, the song was actually written back in 1908 with music by Kerry Mills and lyrics by Thurland Chattaway. 
I always enjoy playing and listening to the bluegrass style of this song.  Most of the time it is played as an instrumental but the song actually has a story when sang with the lyrics. The song portrays a picture of a young Indian maiden, named Red Wing, who is weeping due the loss of her sweetheart in battle.   Probably, most people remember the chorus with words that go like this:
Now the moon shines tonight on pretty Red Wing
The breeze is signing, the night birds crying
For far far away her brave is dying.
While Red Wing’s weeping her heart away.
Another interesting tidbit is that I have heard the song jokingly referred to as:  “Dead Wing” depending on who is playing or singing it.  Either way it is a great song and a popular selection at most Bluegrass Jams.  If you don’t know it, take some time to learn it as you now know more about its origination. Here is a very old rendition of the song:
Red Wing Song on YouTube
So next time you see a Cardinal, you can think of this great old time song.
Have a great day and keep on picking!