Goodnight Irene: Royal Song of the Day 08/28/2011

“Goodnight, Irene” is The Royal Song of the Day for Sunday, August 28th. You can find the lyrics to this song at Rise Up Singing on page 132. The Duke and Duchess of Peace are dedicating this song to the hurricane (and tropical storm) named Irene, and to the folks she affected. A lot of other folks on social media have sung this song in the past few days, as well.

More about this song, and why the Duke and Duchess picked it…

The video above is the song “Goodnight, Irene” as sung by The Weavers, including Pete Seeger. The Duke and Duchess admire this song, because it is such an authentic part of the American, folk music, culture. The song was written by Huddie Ledbetter (aka Lead Belly) and John a. Lomax. As described in the video above, it was a kind of theme song for Lead Belly.

“Goodnight, Irene” is often used as a good-bye song for folks concerts or campfire sing-a-longs. Duke Augustus and Duchess Susanna have sung-a-long to “Goodnight Irene” with Arlo Guthrie and/or Pete Seeger many times, as part of the traditional, Carnegie Hall, Saturday-after-Thanksgiving concert. You can find some reflections on one of the Carnegie Hall concerts, and on the question, “Are Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie political enough?”: here.

Since the goal of The Peace Couple website is peace, we usually try to chose a song that directly supports nonviolence. Though, often, we stumble upon songs we find irresistible, which are about different paths to peace, such as respecting the earth or creating justice. The song “Goodnight, Irene” is about peace in a different way. It is a kind of lullaby, and almost a nonsense song. Though, the music, and the tradition of singing the song, are so wrapped up with progressive people, and authentic culture, that it somehow encapsulates the idea of peace.

In addition, “Goodnight Irene” deals with themes of sadness and loss in a way that helps to process feelings and create healing.


Sometimes I live in the country, sometimes I live in town.
Sometimes I have a great notion,
to jump in the river and drown

Irene, goodnight, Irene goodnight.
Goodnight, Irene. Goodnight, Irene.
I’ll see you in my dreams.

A light-hearted warning: This tune is so catchy, it can sometimes turn into an earworm. One of those songs that you cannot get out of your head. If that happens, the only remedy is to start to work on learning another, complicated song OR to make up new verses for “Goodnight, Irene”. If you write a new verse, or even hear of a good one, please post it in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Goodnight Irene: Royal Song of the Day 08/28/2011”

  1. Watching the actual moment when Hanson thought of an ‘idea’ for a song chorus. This turned out to be one of my favorites. AMAZING! GAH!

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