The Bluegrass Messengers
Acres of Clams- Version 2

Acres of Clams- Version 2

Traditional Tune; Original Lyrics by (Judge) Francis D. Henry; American Waltz, Air and Contra Dance Tune; Irish, Jig; English, Morris Dance Tune (6/8 time). CATEGORY: Fiddle and Instrumental Tunes.

DATE: Lyrics written in the 1870s by a police court judge, this song achieved prominence decades later through radio-show singer Ivar Haglund, who made it the theme song of Acres of Clams, his flagship seafood restaurant on the Seattle Waterfront's Pier 54.

RECORDING INFO: Pete Seeger, "The Old Settler's Song. Brothers Four. BMOC (Best Music on/off Campus), Columbia CL 1578, LP (196?), cut#B.05 (Old Settler's Song) Greenway, John. Big Rock Candy Mountain. Songs of the American Hobo & Migrato.., Washington WLP 710, LP (195?), cut#B.07. Ransom, Stan. My Long Island Home, Connecticut Peddler, CD (1997), cut# 1. Stracke, Win. Americana, Bally BAL 12013, LP (195?), cut# 9. Tarriers. Tarriers, Glory PG 1200, LP (195?), cut#B.05. Toelken, J. Barre (Barry). Garland of American Folksong, Prestige International INT 13023, LP (196?), cut# 4

OTHER NAMES: “Lay of the Old Settler,” “Old Settler’s Song,” “Rosin the Beau,” "Old Rosin, the Beau," "Rosin the Bow," "Mrs. Kenny," "A Hayseed Like Me," "My Lodging's on the Cold, Cold Ground."

SOURCES: Silber-FSWB, p. 48, "Acres of Clams; Lomax-FSUSA 55, "The Old Settler's Song"; Darling-NAS, pp. 283-284, "Acres of Clams". "Copied...from a MS. evidently written by a skilled fiddler with much musical taste, from Limerick, but the name of the writer nowhere appears" [Joyce]: Hogg (Pa., 1948) [Bayard]. Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 620, pg. 546. Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; pg. 56-57 and pg. 127 {discord version} (lyrics included, pg. 56-57). Joyce (Old Irish Folk Music and Song), 1909; No. 352, pg. 162. Laufman (Okay, Let's Try a Contra, Men on the Right, Ladies on the Left, Up and Down the Hall), 1973; pg. 15. Mulvihill (1st Collection), 1986; No. 15, pg. 122. Wade (Mally's North West Morris Book), 1988; pg. 24. Kuntz, Fiddler's Companion,

NOTES: Lyrics wed to the fiddle tune “Old Rosin the Bow/Beau”. "Key of A Major (Ford, Joyce): G Major (Bayard, Laufman, Mulvihill, Wade). Standard or AEAE. AB (Bayard, Joyce, Wade): ABB (Ford): AABB (Laufman, Mulvihill). The tune is used for a single step in the North-West England Morris dance tradition. Bayard (1981) notes the air was known to most fiddlers, fifers, and singers in Pennsylvania, as in many parts of the country. He identifies a melody by James Oswald which appears in his 2nd Collection (1740's, pg. 25) as a 6/8 "Gigg," that is extremely close to "Rosin," and he wonders if this was the ancestral tune for the air, or if Oswald himself was influenced by an older air. Further, he says a tune called "Dumfries House" in Gow's Complete Repository (3rd Ed., Part I, pg. 13) ascribed to John Riddle has a 2nd strain that equals "Rosin the Beau," and a Welsh harp tune in Bennett's Alawon fy Ngwlad also is quite close. The Fleishchmann index (1998) gives that the tune was derived from a 17th century Irish tune in 6/4 meter called "On the Cold Ground;" that tune, however, is English, attributed to Matthew Lock from the play The Rivals. The title appears in a list of standard tunes in the square dance fiddler's repertoire, according to A.B. Moore in his History of Alabama, 1934. The title appears in a list of traditional Ozark Mountain fiddle tunes compiled by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph, published in 1954. Smithsonian Folkways SFW CD 40126, Rodney Miller - "Choose Your Partners!: Contra Dance & Square Dance Music of New Hampshire" (1999)." Kuntz, Fiddler's Companion,

I've traveled all over this country
Prospecting and digging for gold
I've tunneled, hydraulicked and cradled
And I have been frequently sold.

For each man who got rich by mining
Perceiving that hundreds grew poor
I made up my mind to try farming
The only pursuit that was sure.

So, rolling my grub in my blanket
I left all my tools on the ground
I started one morning to shank it
For the country they call Puget Sound.

Arriving flat broke in midwinter
I found it enveloped in fog
And covered all over with timber
Thick as hair on the back of a dog.

When I looked on the prospects so gloomy
The tears trickled over my face
And I thought that my travels had brought me
To the end of the jumping-off place.

I staked me a claim in the forest
And sat myself down to hard toil
For two years I chopped and I struggled
But I never got down to the soil.

I tried to get out of the country
But poverty forced me to stay
Until I became an old settler
Then nothing could drive me away.

And now that I'm used to the climate
I think that if a man ever found
A place to live easy and happy
That Eden is on Puget Sound.

No longer the slave of ambition
I laugh at the world and its shams
As I think of my pleasant condition
Surrounded by acres of clams.

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