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Lyr Req: On the Road to California

DigiTrad:
CALIFORNIA BOYS
EAST VIRGINIA GIRLS
ON THE ROAD TO CALIFORNIA
THE ARKANSAS BOYS
THE TEXIAN BOYS
THE TEX-I-AN BOYS
WHEN YOU GO A-COURTIN'


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Lyr Add: Cornbread, 'Lasses and Sassafras Tea (1)
Lyr Req: Arkansas Sheik (4)
Lyr/Tune Add: Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys (1)


Jon W. 11 Oct 05 - 01:46 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 11 Oct 05 - 03:17 PM
Jon W. 11 Oct 05 - 03:39 PM
Joe Offer 11 Oct 05 - 04:09 PM
Jon W. 13 Oct 05 - 12:16 PM
ard mhacha 13 Oct 05 - 12:24 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Oct 05 - 08:05 PM
Jon W. 18 Oct 05 - 12:33 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 18 Oct 05 - 02:15 PM
Jon W. 18 Oct 05 - 04:30 PM
GUEST 20 Apr 09 - 01:13 PM
GUEST,Cusa Cantusa 06 Jul 09 - 03:31 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: On the Road To California
From: Jon W.
Date: 11 Oct 05 - 01:46 PM

My kids are always watching the "Little Rascals" movies that have recently been re-released on DVD's. On one of them, Alfalfa keeps trying to sing "On the Road to California." I know two versions of this song, both of which are Mormon folksongs, and are the only versions in the DT (submitted years ago by your's truly). So please, if anyone knows of a non-Mormon version of this song, post the lyrics.

IIRC, Alfalfa starts with the chorus and is never allowed to get past the first line: "On the road to California, on our hard and tedious journey."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: On the Road To California -
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 11 Oct 05 - 03:17 PM

What would make you believe Alfalfa is attempting to sing a version other than the "Morman" bull song?

Tune? Alfalfa is always out of tune and off key - its the charactor Hal R. cast him in.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: On the Road To California -
From: Jon W.
Date: 11 Oct 05 - 03:39 PM

I wouldn't have thought that the Mormon song would have been widely enough known in those days to be used in a movie - but you may be right.

Despite Alfalfa's butchering of the tune, it is still quite recognizable as the same one - a variant on "Old Dan Tucker."


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Subject: Lyr Add: ON THE ROAD TO CALIFORNIA
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Oct 05 - 04:09 PM

Hey, Jon, don't give up so fast. I found a song that uses the chorus of the Mormon song in Cowboy and Western Songs, by Austin and Alta Fife (1969). They class it under a song called "Johnny Cake," identified elsewhere as "Kansas Boys." Their comment is, "Strangely, Text A uses a stanza from a song of the Mormon Battalion as a refrain. The song has been adapted to fit the young men of half of the states in the Union. Melody and text from Text A are from a commercial recording by Len Nash, Library of Congress #1732A3, recorded by John A. Lomax.

TEXT 9A. ON THE ROAD TO CALIFORNIA

Come all girls, pay attention to my voice,
Don't you fall in love with the Kansas boys,
For if you do your fortune it will be
Hoe-cake, hominy, and sassafras tea.

They'll take you out on the jet black hill,
And they'll take you there much against your will,
Leave you there to perish on the plains,
For that is the way with the Kansas range.
    CHORUS
    Oh, on the road to Californey
    It was a hard and a tedious journey,
    Far across the Rocky Mountains,
    Crystal springs and flowing fountains.

When they go to meeting the clothes that they wear
Is an old brown coat all fixed and bare.
An old white hat small-rimmed and crowned,
And a pair of cotton socks that they wore the year around.

Some live in a cabin with a huge log wall
And a-nary a window in it at all,
A sandstone chimney and a punch board floor,
A clap board roof and a button-hole door.

When they go to milk they milk in a gourd
And they heave it in the corner and they cover it with a board.
Some get plenty and some get none
For that is the way with the Kansas run.

When they go a-fishin' they take along a worm
And they put iron a book just to see it squirm.
The first thing they say when they get a bite
Is, "I got a fish as big as Johnny White."

When they go a-courtin' they take along a chair
And the first thing they say, Has your daddy killed a bear?'
The second thing they say when they sit right down
Is, "Madam, your johnny cake is baking brown."

tune available on request

I've heard this one sung, but don't ask me where. My brain is too addled to recall.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: On the Road To California -
From: Jon W.
Date: 13 Oct 05 - 12:16 PM

It looks like there's a comingling of two different songs here, both of which have definite Mormon versions. "Don't you Marry the Mormon Boys" is the one with similar verses, but I've never seen that printed with anything but the first verse repeated as the chorus. Just the folk process at work, I guess.

Anyway, it seems the chorus, at least, of this song is more widely dispersed than I had thought.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: On the Road To California -
From: ard mhacha
Date: 13 Oct 05 - 12:24 PM

I heard this song in an old western, can`t remember which, it began, "On the road to Californy, it was dark and it was stormy".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: On the Road To California -
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Oct 05 - 08:05 PM

The version of "Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys" posted by Jon W does not mention California or have a chorus: Don't You Marry


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: On the Road to California
From: Jon W.
Date: 18 Oct 05 - 12:33 PM

My daughter was watching the Little Rascals episode again last night - Alfalfa never gets more than the chorus in. He sings "Far across the Rocky Mountains flowing streams and crystal fountains" not "By San Pedro's crystal fountains" (the version from the "Bullfight on the San Pedro."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: On the Road to California
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Oct 05 - 02:15 PM

An assumption is being made here that the chorus of "The Bullfight..." was original to the song by Levi Hancock of the Mormon Batallion.
The chorus also appears in another Mormon song (in the DT), supposedly written sometime after their expulsion from Illinois (1846).
Like Jon W. I wonder whether the verse was original to the Mormon songs.

On the other side of the argument, pioneers going west to 'California' easily could have picked up the verse from the Mormons. Certainly there were contacts, and Mormons joined the Goldrush. "In Put's Songsters from the 1850s, published and in part written by J. A. Stone, there are mentions of the Mormons, and they appear in songs such as "Sweet Betsey from Pike," "The Golden Songster," 1858, p. 50-52, and "That is Even So," pp. 53-55. Some going west wintered in Salt Lake, and many crossed Mormon territory, so contact seems to have been common.

Obviously a final answer has not been found. Like Alfalfa in the film, many of us in the west knew the verse from our elders, although we knew nothing of the rest of the Mormon songs.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: On the Road to California
From: Jon W.
Date: 18 Oct 05 - 04:30 PM

Well, I would still be interested in other lyrics that fit this chorus, whether they be antecedents to the two Mormon songs or vice-versa.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: On the Road to California
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 01:13 PM

My Dad learned it from a Chautaqua(sp?)yat passed through Valier Montana, (near Conrad), in the early/mid 19' teens. His brothers and he sung it with a much exagerated southern twang, dramadics and facial comedy. Ironicly, sang it on their move to L.A. in the early twenties, broken down model 'T's, bad, steep winding roads, you get the picture. Dad and his family put little stock in Mormans so I can't see a connection from that dirrection.
However, having an upbringing in music and have listened to some Morman music, I have seen the dendicy of the Mormans ripping off a song or melody, changing it enough to fit their needs and calling it their own. ie. Finlandia of all things.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: On the Road to California
From: GUEST,Cusa Cantusa
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 03:31 PM

Alfalfa sang "Road to Californy" in "The Pinch Singer" 1936.
Before being signed on the spot by Hal Roach when he and Harald walked into the Our Gang Cafe in Culver City CA, the brothers performed their hillbilly singing routine at auctions and fairs around their parents farm in Illinois.


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