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.
    Chorus

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



    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!
    Chorus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CST Approved

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