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Prairie Graveyard Waltz

Prairie Graveyard – 3:48 – In 1908 my Great-Grandfather, a young Yorkshireman, stepped off a ship in Halifax, and bought a ticket west as far as his money would go. He ended up in Moose Jaw. Hard times awaited him. Jobs were scarce. When his young wife and baby son joined him, they had to live in a tent – in a Saskatchewan winter. Sadly, the young boy – the only son they would ever have – died.

In 1982 my brother Chris got his RCAF wings at Moose Jaw. We attended, but also made time to look up that death in the old town records. We visited the graveyard and arranged for a stone to be erected on that windswept, barren spot.

This song was written, composed and sung by Chris. Again Kylie Martin adds a beautiful harmony.

 

Prairie Graveyard Waltz                                       ©1999 Chris Hadfield

G                              D                     Em              Bm
With my hat in my hand and the wind in my hair,
            C           D                 G
And a feeling I never have known.
                 C                  D                       Bm              Em
There’s a glaze on the ground and a weight on my heart,
      Am         C                D
As Austin, I leave you alone.
 
I’ve stood here for hours yet I cannot explain,
To a boy who will never grow old,
What it was brought us here to this hard lonely place,
          C                       D                          G
From England, from Yorkshire, from home.
 
Em             Bm                  C             G
Sifton, you promised the fat of the land,    [chorus]
Em                         Bm              Am  C       D
And a west, and a future that ca—ll –ed me.
          G                            D                     Em                Bm
Your words brought us here but they could not sustain,
      C                    D                 G
So beaten, we’re headin’ for home.
 
You see son I married your mother too young,
In a town that turned iron to steel.
We stood in a crowd at the edge of the square,
Hearing words all so vivid and real.
They said, “Welcome new friends to this vast fertile land,
Where there’s acres and gold lie in store.”
But by the shine in her eyes, I could ne’er realize,
The price we’d be payin’ was yours.
 
          Bm                                   Am           C
On a pillow at home lies your wee sister Mary,
          Bm                                        Am C             D
She’s coughing and thinner each time that she cries,
           G                 D            Em                         Bm
And I just could not bear the thought that we’d lose her,
      C               D                    G
So prairie we bid you good bye.
 
                                                Bm                    Em
[chorus, and extra tag line:] Away from the sun settin’