California History Through Folksong Set 



Keith ∓ Rusty McNeil - California Songbook with historical commentary

This attractively illustrated one hundred twenty-five page companion to California Songs - Volume One - Nineteenth Century and California Songs - Volume Two - Twentieth Century includes eighty selections with words, music and chord symbols, plus historical commentary, background information on the songs and a bibliography.

Companion Book To CD Collection - Nineteenth Century and Twentieth Century.

"The McNeils offer a chronological look at California's past through its music in this large-format book that combines piano music, lyrics, chord notations, and historical background for dozens of songs.  Though this paperback looks similar to the McNeil's Civic War Songbook (1999), the approach is somewhat different.  Rather than representing one period in different places, this traces the history of California from early Indian, Spanish, and Mexican songs through those of gold rush miners, railroad workers, ranchers, movie actors, Dust Bowl refugees, immigrants, world war two soldiers, workers, and the young people who came to San Francisco in the 1960's.  Each song is accompanied by interesting notes and often a period illustration.  Lest you think this book is only for California libraries, where else will you find five piano scores for silent movies, covering situations from 'cattle stampede' to 'fear, anxiety, suspense, ominous situations'?"


Part one:
Indian, Spanish and Mexican California

Spain explores California and establishes missions. Indians at the missions chant the mass to European traditional and popular music. Mexico gains independence from Spain and creates a distinctive California culture. Americans arrive, clash with Mexicans, and establish the short-lived Bear Flag Republic. The United States declares war against Mexico.

 The Songs:

You Who Don't Believe It 

Mui婲a D' A Fonte

Kyrie Eleison

Cielito Lindo (Norte舘Cielito Lindo (Huasteca) 

The Spanish Fandango

Windy Bill

El Ca䩣o Del Alba

La Paloma

All The Way to Californy

The Dying Californian

Part Two:
The Gold Rush

Mexico cedes California to the United States. The gold discovery brings people from many countries. American citizens cross the plains, sail around the Horn and cross the Isthmus. Immigrants arrive from China, and are barred from the mines. African-Americans come to the mines, some leave California for British Columbia. Steamboats fill the rivers. The Port of San Francisco becomes notorious for shanghaiing sailors. The Indian population shrinks.

 The Songs:

My Darling Clementine

Oh, California

A Ripping Trip

Seeing The Elephant

Crossing The Plains

Joe Bowers

The Days of Forty-Nine 

Cripple Creek

California Ball

Sweet Betsey From Pike

John Chinaman's Appeal

We're All A-Panning

Over My Head


North to Victoria

Steam Navigation Thieves


The Big Five Gallon Jar

La Indita

My Log Cabin Home

Part Three:
Railroaders, Boom and Bust

The Union Pacific, with the help of thousands of Chinese railroad workers, completes the transcontinental railroad. The Southern Pacific monopolizes rail traffic to and from California. Farmers rebel against high-handed railroad tactics. After ten years of depression, the boom begins again.

 The Songs:

I've Been Workin' On The Railroad


John Chinaman, My Jo

Hayseed Like Me

The Bummers' Hotel

I Had But Fifty Cents

Part Four:
Farmers and Ranchers

As California enters the twentieth century, its wine and citrus industries are flourishing. Basques from the Pyrenees raise sheep. Cattle ranchers and cowboys sing songs from Mexican California and from the southern Appalachian mountains.

 The Songs:

California Here I Come

California Oranges

Andre Madalen

El Rancho Grande

Come Day Go Day, Wish It Was Sunday

Rye Whiskey


The Strawberry Roan

Part Five:
Temperance and Suffrage, Cars and Movie Stars

Women organize against heavy drinking, sing militant songs. Women campaign for the right to vote. Californians sing of their love for (and frustrations with) automobiles. The movie industry moves to California, evolving from silent movies to spectacular films.

 The Songs:

I'm On The Water Wagon Now

The Whiskey Shops Must Go

Some Little Bug Is Going To Find You Some Day

Lydia Pinkham

Where Is My Wanderin' Ma Tonight?

He'll Have To Get Under - Get Out And Get Under

The Jitney Bus

In My Merry Oldsmobile

Silent Movie Music (5 Tunes)

San Francisco

Part Six:
Immigrants and Dust Bowl Refugees

Immigrants arrive from Italy, Portugal, Armenia and India to work on California's farms. The I.W.W. organizes farm workers. Japanese immigrants buy land and compete with established farmers. The Mexican Revolution sends thousands of refugees to California. Mexican farm workers organize unions, are deported, and replaced with workers from the Philippines. Dust storms on the great plains displace thousands, bringing more job seekers to California. Poverty is rampant.

 The Songs:

We're Coming Back To California

Senza I Brazzi E Fuori

The Preacher And The Slave

The Mower's Song


Los Deportados

So Long, It's Been Good To Know You

If You Ain't Got The Do Re Mi

Part Seven:
World War Two, Songs of the Cities

World War Two absorbs men into the armed services. Women manufacture bombs, tanks, ships and airplanes. Japanese-Americans are interned in concentration camps, and many volunteer for military duty in Europe. The United States and Mexico create the Bracero program. Californians write and sing songs which reflect pride (and sometimes dismay), about their cities.

 The Songs:

I Love You California

Rosie The Riveter

Don't Fence Me In

442nd Infantry

El Soldado Razo

Plane Wreck At Los Gatos


Nosotros Venceremos

Santa Maria (My Old Home Town)

Brawley, The World's Largest City Beneath The Level Of The Sea

Simi Valley

L. A. River

San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)

Sources for and about songs sung in California 
Picture Credits
Index of Songs

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