Sonny James’ “Runnin’ Bear” is a classic country song that tells the story of two star-crossed lovers from different Native American tribes. Released in 1960, the song quickly became a hit thanks to its catchy melody and heartfelt lyrics.
The song begins with James singing about Runnin’ Bear, a young brave from one tribe who falls in love with Little White Dove, a maiden from another tribe. He sings, “On the bank of the river stood Runnin’ Bear, young Indian brave / On the other side of the river stood his lovely Indian maid.” These lines set the scene for the rest of the song, which follows the couple’s tragic love story.
As the song progresses, James sings about the obstacles that stand in the couple’s way, including the disapproval of their respective tribes. He sings, “With a love that would never die, they talked and planned for the moonlit night / But on that fateful day when the great white chief said, ‘That’s the way it must be.'” These lines underscore the power of societal norms and expectations, which often override individual desires and passions.
Despite their struggles, Runnin’ Bear and Little White Dove remain committed to each other until the end. James sings, “Now he’s gone, she’s lost her will, for live and all its thrills / And although they’ll never know we’re standing here so close together / Alone forevermore.” These lines speak to the enduring nature of true love, which can survive even in the face of tragedy and separation.
In conclusion, Sonny James’ “Runnin’ Bear” is a poignant and powerful country song that tells the story of an ill-fated romance between two Native American lovers. Through its evocative lyrics and memorable melody, the song speaks to the universal themes of love, loss, and the human spirit’s unbreakable resilience in the face of adversity.