Acres of Clams

TITLE: Acres of Clams
AUTHOR: Francis D. Henry?
EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: The first recorded reference to this song was in the Olympia, Washington newspaper the Washington Standard in April 1877.
CATEGORY: Public Domain, Debated
KEYWORDS: gold, farming, poverty, settler, prospecting, clams

clamsSaid to be written by Francis D. Henry 1874, although the Traditional Ballad Index says the author is unknown. The first recorded reference to this song was in the Olympia, Washington newspaper the Washington Standard in April 1877.

The song achieved prominence decades later when radio-show singer Ivar Haglund used it as the theme song for his Seattle, Washington radio show. Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie said that they taught the song to Haglund. Haglund went on to name the Seattle restaurant “Ivar’s Acres of Clams” after the last line from the ballad. (Wikipedia)

Often called “The Old Settler’s Song” the tune is “Old Rosin the Bow.” When lyrics say “I have been frequently sold” it refers to being conned.

OTHER TITLES AND VARIATIONS:

  • The Old Settle
  • The Old Settler’s Song

RECORDINGS:

  • Pete Seeger, “The Old Settler’s Song” (on PeteSeeger47)—Amazon MP3
  • Heidi Muller “Acres of Clams/Rosin the Beau”—Amazon MP3
  • The Tarriers “Acres of Clams”—Amazon MP3
  • Travellers “Acres of Clams”—Amazon MP3
  • Ramblin’ Jack Elliot “Acres of Clams”—Amazon MP3
  • Peggo and Paul “Acres of Clams”—Amazon MP3
  • Spider John Koerner “Acres of Clams”—Amazon MP3
  • The Brothers Four “The Old Settler’s Song”—Amazon MP3
  • Matthew Sabatella “The Old Settler’s Song”—Amazon MP3

YOUTUBE VIDEO: 

YOUTUBE AUDIO: download
LYRIC & CHORD PRO CHART:  
download
PPT LYRICS FOR THE CLASSROOM: download
BONUS YOUTUBE VIDEO: Dan Hardin

Acres Of Clams

I’ve traveled all over this country,
Prospecting and digging for gold.
I’ve tunneled, hydraulicked and cradled,
And, I have been frequently sold.

And I have been frequently sold,
And I have been frequently sold,
I’ve tunneled, hydraulicked and cradled,
And, I have been frequently sold.

For one who gets riches by mining
Perceiving that hundreds grow poor,
I made up my mind to try farming,
The only pursuit that is sure.

The only pursuit that is sure,
The only pursuit that is sure,
I made up mind to try farming
The only pursuit that is sure.

So, rolling my grub in my blanket,
I left all my tools on the ground,
And started one morning to shank it
For a country they call Puget Sound.

For a country they call Puget Sound,
For a country they call Puget Sound,
And started one morning to shank it
For a country they call Puget Sound.

No  longer the slave of ambition,
I  laugh at the world and its shams,
And I  think of my happy condition
Surrounded by  acres of  clams.

Surrounded by acres of  clams
Surrounded by acres of  clams
I’ve tunneled, hydraulicked and cradled,
And I’m surrounded by  acres of  clams.

SOURCES:

  • Folk Song Index: A Comprehensive Guide to the Florence E. Brunnings Collection, Florence E. Brunnings, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London 1981—Amazon Books
  • Country Music Sources: A Biblio-Discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music, Guthrie T. Meade, Jr. with Dick Spottswood and Douglas S. Meade, Southern Folklife Collection, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries, NC 2002—Amazon Books
  • Folk Songs of North America (in the English Language), Alan Lomax, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York 1960—Amazon Books

NOTICE: I’m not the best guitar player or vocalist, but no one loves these songs more than I do. The tune and lyrics are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. The recording © copyright 2013 by Stephen Griffith and may be used by permission of the copyright holder. The variation of the song I’m posting is the version I perform and is not exactly replicating the sources cited, but is always in the same song family. If anyone has more details about this song, or believes I’ve stated something in error, please let me know. I’m also open to suggestions to improve the site. Thanks. sgg