Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Story Songs: Running Bear

J.P. Richardson, more famously known as The Big Bopper, penned a song about eternal love in "Running Bear." The tune, recorded by Johnny Preston, reached No. 1 in early 1960, nearly a year after the plane crash that claimed the lives of Richardson, Buddy Holly, and Ritchie Valens. 

It's a simple song about two young Indians -- Running Bear and Little White Dove -- whose love is separated by their feuding tribes and a wide river.   

"On the bank of the river
Stood Running Bear
Young Indian brave
On the other side of the river
Stood his lovely Indian maid
Little White Dove was her name
Such a lovely sight to see
But their tribes fought with each other
So their love could never be"

They decide that the only way to be together is to meet halfway in the river, but realizing that only their love for each other would survive the "raging river."

"And they swam out to each other
Through the swirling stream they came
As their hands touched and their lips met
The raging river pulled them down
Now they'll always be together
In their happy hunting ground"

"Running Bear" was one of my favorite songs during my pre-teen years. It has a distinctive drumbeat and sax interludes, along with Richardson and George Jones providing background vocals, that makes it a special love song. 

"Running Bear" lyrics




  1. Gosh, I can still hear that song in my head. It was huge when I was a young girl. :)

  2. I hear ya, Devon. I'm sure this was a song that many of us knew by heart and sang along with it on the radio.

  3. This is another favorite of mine! I STILL cry over it every I hear it! (but then, to hear family members tell it, I cry over everything. LOL)

  4. Taryn, it is a bittersweet love song. I can't say it ever brought me to tears but I can understand why it could be a tearjerker.

  5. I liked this song back then. Funny how we have so much in our memory bank and then when things get ressurected it opens the door to so many other memories.

    1. That's a neat thing about music in that it opens up so many memories -- good and bad.