The Dying Californian

8 Oct

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[gDGBD tuning]

This is arranged from the outstanding fiddling/singing of Tim Eriksen. Like much of the music he plays, this piece is found in the Sacred Harp repertoire. The term “Sacred Harp” refers to the human voice, thus the music associated with the tradition is a capella and is called shape-note singing. The Sacred Harp collection was originally published way back in 1844 by a couple of guys from the state of Georgia – B.F. White & E.J. King. To this day many groups scattered throughout North America (and Europe) continue to gather for annual or local “singings” which might last anywhere from a couple hours to a few days. In my limited experience on this planet, there are few things which compare to the experience of standing in the middle of a bunch of harmonized shape-note singers. Highly recommended.

Anyway (!)…The Dying Californian is on the top of p.410 of the Sacred Harp book and features, according to the book, “words by Kate Harris of Pascoag, R.I. in the New England Diadem and Rhode Island Temperance Pledge, 9 Feb. 1850, ‘Suggested on hearing read an extract of a letter from Captain Chase, containing the dying words of Brown Owen, who recently died on his passage to California.”‘ Here it is done ‘by the book’ (full lyrics). And for good measure, here it is as performed way down in the Arkansas Ozarks.



One Response to “The Dying Californian”


  1. The Dying Californian | Feileadh Mor - 06/19/2012

    […] been picking this one outand have really come to enjoy it. The lyrics are excellent and found in the Sacred Harp, p. […]

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