07 December 2011

#53 California

Stan Hugill's Shanties from the Seven Seas contains numerous song examples that are not chanties or even sea songs really, but rather there to support discussions of the possible origins of the chanties. Here is one of them, which figures into the discussion of the famous chanty, "Banks of the Sacramento."

The New England-based Hutchinson Family Singers introduced this song in 1849, during the California Gold Rush. Well, to be precise: a collection of their songs (The Hutchinson Family's Book of Words), dated 1851, says about "Ho! for California!":

A song composed for a band of overland emigrants, who left Massachusetts, in the spring of 1849.  

Composed for them? Interesting. This, however, would not eliminate the possibility that the song was based on (or a parody of) an earlier existing song. 

In any case, the significance here is that, if a chanty did first not inspire "Ho! for California!", then it was this song that may well have inspired the chorus section of the "Sacramento" chanty. 

Ranzo :{

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