While the tune itself is known by several different titles and there are a number of versions of the lyrics, the tune is certainly one of the most beautiful American folk songs. The lyrics Kelly has chosen to work with(and shown in full)are perhaps the most poignant. The text of each verse inspired the setting. The solo/soli bass and alto flutes at the beginning and end of the piece represent the heartbroken cowboy as he learns that his love is leaving. The sound of the wind adds to his feelings of loneliness and despair. By the fourth verse, his pain and frustration gives way to a gentle remembrance of the love they once shared.
Scored for 5 C Flutes, 2 Alto Flutes, Bass Flute and optional Contrabass Flute. Duration 6'45″.