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Song in the public domain from the California Gold Rush of the 1850s (Most of the rivers that contained gold were tributaries of the Sacramento River--it was also the main route to the gold country from San Francisco).

This song was used as a capstan shanty for sailors on their way to California, and as such, verses could be improvised so that the song could keep going as long as the task at hand.

In the folk tradition, you can make up your own verses. You can sing it to the tune of Stephen Foster’s “Camptown Races” (1850):

    Sing and heave, and heave and sing,
    To me hoodah! To my hoodah!
    Heave and make the handspikes spring.
    To me hoodah! To me hoodah!
    (Sn the interest of page weight, I will leave out the hoodahs in subsequent verses)

    Chorus: And it's blow, boys, blow, for Californi-o.
    For there's plenty of gold, so I've been told,
    On the banks of the Sacramento.

    From Limehouse Docks to Sydney Heads,
    Was never more than seventy days.

    We cracked it on, on a big skiute,
    And the old man felt like a swell galoot.

    alternate version:

    O, around Cape Horn we are bound to go
    To me hoodah! To my hoodah!
    Around Cape Horn through the sleet and snow,
    To me hoodah, hoodah, day!

    Oh around the Horn with a mainskys'l set,
    Around Cape Horn an' we're all wringin' wet.

    Oh, around Cape Horn in the month o' May,
    Oh, around Cape Horn is a very long way.

    Them Dago gals we do adore,
    They all drink vino an' ask for more.

    Them Spanish gals ain't got no combs,
    They comb their locks with tunny fish bones.

    To the Sacramento we're bound away,
    To the Sacramento's a hell o' a way.

    We're the buckos for to make 'er go,
    All the way to the Sacramento.

    We're the bullies for to kick her through,
    Roll down the hill with a hullabaloo.

    Starvation an' ease in a Yankee ship,
    We're the bullies for to make 'er rip.

    Santander Jim is a mate from hell,
    With fists o' iron an' feet as well.

    Breast yer bars an' bend yer backs,
    Heave an' make yer spare ribs crack.

    Round the Horn an' up to the Line,
    We're the bullies for to make 'er shine

    We'll crack it on, on a big skiyoot,
    Ol' Bully Jim is a bloody big brute.

    Oh, a bully ship wid a bully crew,
    But the mate is a bastard through an' through.

    Ninety days to 'Frisco Bay,
    Ninety days is damn good pay.

    Oh, them wuz the days of the good ol' times,
    Back in the days of the Forty-nine.

    Sing an' heave an' heave an' sing,
    Heave an' make them handspikes spring.

    An' I wish to God I'd niver bin born,
    To go a-ramblin' round Cape Horn.

CST Approved

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