Home on the Range

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"Home on the Range"
State song of Kansas
Music by Daniel E. Kelley
Lyrics by Brewster M. Higley
Written Early 1870s

"Home on the Range" is the state song of the American state of Kansas. Dr. Brewster M. Higley (1823–1911) originally wrote the words in a poem called "My Western Home" in the early 1870s in Smith County, Kansas.

History of the song[edit]

Dr. Brewster M. Higley, late 19th century

The poem was first published in a December 1873 issue of the Smith County Pioneer under the title "Oh, Give Me a Home Where the Buffalo Roam". The music was written by a friend of Higley, Daniel E. Kelley (1845–1905). Higley's original words are similar to those of the song today, but not identical. The song was adopted by settlers, cowboys, and others and spread across the United States in various forms. During the early 20th century, it was arranged by Texas composer David W. Guion (1892–1981), who is often credited as the composer. It was officially adopted as the state song of Kansas on June 30, 1947, and is commonly regarded as the unofficial anthem of the American West.

In contrast to the lyrics, no actual antelope species is native to the Americas; the pronghorn is often called an antelope, however.

Modern usage[edit]

"Home on the Range" is often performed in programs and concerts of American patriotic music, and is frequently used in plays and films. These include the 1948 film Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (sung by both Cary Grant and Myrna Loy), the 1967 off-Broadway musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (sung by the cast as a glee club rehearsal number), the 1980 film Where the Buffalo Roam (sung by Neil Young over the opening credits), the 2009 film The Messenger (sung by Willie Nelson over the closing credits), and in the 1946 western film Colorado Serenade (sung by actor Roscoe Ates). Frank Sinatra recorded the song on March 10, 1946 and it was released in Great Britain, although it wasn't available in the United States until 1993.

The song has naturally also made its way into screen shorts for children and adults, as in the 1954 Looney Tunes cartoon, Claws for Alarm, sung by Porky Pig. Likewise, Bugs Bunny sings the song in both The Fair-Haired Hare and Oily Hare, the latter containing original lyrics specific to Texas oilmen.

Kurt Vonnegut uses the tune of "Home on the Range" for the national anthem of San Lorenzo in his novel Cat's Cradle (1963).[1]

It was also used in a Season 4 episode of Cheers (Fools and their money), where the bar-owner Sam Malone sings it along with his employee, Woody Boyd.

"Home on the Range" has been featured as the state slogan on Kansas vanity license plates since 2005.

Alvin and the Chipmunks covered the song for their 1960 album Sing Again with The Chipmunks which was also adapted as a musical segment in the 1961 TV series The Alvin Show.

An arrangement of "Home on the Range" is played by the University of Kansas Marching Jayhawks at the end of all home football games in Memorial Stadium.

Windom Earle sings in Twin Peaks when he is abducting Major Briggs

Every January 29, the anniversary of Kansas' admission to the Union, the Kansas Senate and House of Representatives each sing the song a cappella.

Major versions compared[edit]

Dr. Brewster Higley (1876) William and Mary Goodwin (1904) John A. Lomax (1910)
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 sky is not cloudy all day.
Chorus
A home! A home!
Where the Deer and the Antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the sky is not cloudy all day.
Oh! give me a land where the bright diamond sand
Throws its light from the glittering streams,
Where glideth along the graceful white swan,
Like the maid in her heavenly dreams.
Chorus
Oh! give me a gale of the Solomon vale,
Where the life streams with buoyancy flow;
On the banks of the Beaver, where seldom if ever,
Any poisonous herbage doth grow.
Chorus
How often at night, when the heavens were bright,
With the light of the twinkling stars
Have I stood here amazed, and asked as I gazed,
If their glory exceed that of ours.
Chorus
I love the wild flowers in this bright land of ours,
I love the wild curlew's shrill scream;
The bluffs and white rocks, and antelope flocks
That graze on the mountains so green.
Chorus
The air is so pure and the breezes so fine,
The zephyrs so balmy and light,
That I would not exchange my home here to range
Forever in azures so bright.
Chorus
Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam,
Where the deer and the antelope play;
There seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the sky is not cloudy all day.
Chorus
A home, a home
Where the deer and the antelope play,
There seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the sky is not cloudy all day.
Yes, give me the gleam of the swift mountain stream
And the place where no hurricane blows;
Oh, give me the park where the prairie dogs bark
And the mountain all covered with snow.
Chorus
Oh, give me the hills and the ring of the drills
And the rich silver ore in the ground;
Yes, give me the gulch where the miner can sluice
And the bright, yellow gold can be found.
Chorus
Oh, give me the mine where the prospectors find
The gold in its own native land;
And the hot springs below where the sick people go
And camp on the banks of the Grande.
Chorus
Oh, give me the steed and the gun that I need
To shoot game for my own cabin home;
Then give me the camp where the fire is the lamp
And the wild Rocky Mountains to roam.
Chorus
Yes, give me the home where the prospectors roam
Their business is always alive
In these wild western hills midst the ring of the drills
Oh, there let me live till I die.
Chorus
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.
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.
Chorus
The red man was pressed from this part of the West
He's likely no more to return,
To the banks of Red River where seldom if ever
Their flickering camp-fires burn.
Chorus
How often at night when the heavens are bright
With the light from the glittering stars
Have I stood here amazed and asked as I gazed
If their glory exceeds that of ours.
Chorus
Oh, I love these wild prairies where I roam
The curlew I love to hear scream,
And I love the white rocks and the antelope flocks
That graze on the mountain-tops green.
Chorus
Oh, give me a land where the bright diamond sand
Flows leisurely down the stream;
Where the graceful white swan goes gliding along
Like a maid in a heavenly dream.
Chorus
A recording of the song from Raiford Penitentiary, Florida, 1939.

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle (Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence, 1963)

External links[edit]