NEW DELHI, Jan. 23 -- The first melody I learned to play on my harmonica as a youngster was the 'Red River Valley' and often as I played its sad, melancholic tune, wondered what the lyrics meant. It was only recently I heard the reason behind the strange title, and why the lyrics were written.

"More than two hundred years ago," the narrator said, "hunters from Europe gathered in the forests bordering the United States and Canada, in an area called the Red River Valley where they hunted animals for their fur.

The fur sent back home made them a fortune, but it also took time to build that fortune, sometimes decades during which time they left their families behind in Europe and lived alone in the wilds of Canada.

But man hates to live al...