Sunday, March 23, 2008

Home On the Range: Unofficial Anthem of the American West

I was very surprised, okay I was shocked, recently when during a workshop with elementary school children I asked them to sing Home on the Range as a warm up. The surprise came when the majority of the children said they did not know the song. Many had not even heard of it!
I have no idea when or how I learned "Home on the Range" I suspect I learned it in elementary school during a music class.
But I am sure I sang it at some point in school.

I find there are many "folk songs" that I think are main stream that even adults do not know. I find this very sad given that they are a part of the U.S. culture and history.

Home on the Range is the state song of Kansas. According to my research Dr. Brewster M. Higley originally wrote the words in a poem called "My Western Home." He wrote it in the early 1870s in Smith County, Kansas. "The song was picked up by settlers, cowboys, and others and spread across the nation in various forms. In the early 20th century, it was arranged by Texas composer David Guion (1892-1981) who is often credited as the composer. It was officially adopted as the state song of Kansas on June 30, 1947."
(source Wikipedia)

Home on the Range

Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam,
Where the deer and the antelope play;
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day

Home, home on the range
Where the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

How often at night when the heavens are bright
With the lights from the glittering stars
Have I stood there amazed and asked as I gazed
If their glory exceeds that of ours.


Oh, give me a land where the bright diamond sand
Flows leisurely down the stream;
There the graceful, white swan goes gliding along
Like a maid in a heavenly dream.


Where the air is so pure, the zephyrs so free,
The breezes so balmy and light,
That I would not exchange my home on the range
For all of the cities so bright.


Oh, I love those wild flowers in this dear land of ours,
The curlew I love to hear scream,
And I love the white rocks and the antelope flocks
That graze on the mountain tops green.


There are other verses.
Click here to hear the tune and find many other verses

And like most folk songs the verses vary from source to source.
I rarely use the entire song, usually the first 2 verses and the chorus.