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Home On the Range

At the heart of American root music are the cowboy tunes representing a time in America when the cowboys rode the planes driving the cattle cross country. It is said that the cowboys sang to the herds to keep them from being startled by the night noises. These were the days of the open range, chuck wagons and the place the cowboy's knew as home. The trail drive years began shortly after the Civil wars in the 1870s through to the 1890s about 20 years in all.

Home on the Range is one of maybe 200 authentic tunes that survived the years of the trail drives and chuck wagons. Those that have survived have done so through the efforts of Jack Thorpe (1907) and John A. Lomax (1911) both of whom worked to preserve the root music of the time.

Home on the Range was written by Dr. Brewster Higley (1872) and set to music by Dan Kelley, an accomplished fiddler. The song was inspired by the beauty of the land on which Dr. Higley made his home in the Kansas. It is believe the original title was My Western Home. The song had such universal appeal that it spread across the plain changing as it passed from cattle drive to cattle drive until it ultimately became the tune we now know as Home on the Range. The authenticity of the authorship of the song was validated during a copyright suit in 1935 after it has been recorded by Vernon Dalhardt and became known world wide. Dalhardt found the original poem by Higley during an extensive search for its origins in defense of the suit against him. The song is now the state song of Kansas.

Home on the Range
Traditional

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

Chorus:
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.

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