Bayou Sara, The
DESCRIPTION: The Bayou Sara (Bicera) is a fine boat, but catches fire and burns down, taking many people with her. The song may mention all the crew she lost, or the singer's own escape and watching for angels to come for him.
EARLIEST DATE: 1914 (Belden)
KEYWORDS: ship river fire death disaster
FOUND IN: US(So)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Belden, pp. 423-424, "The Burning of the Bayou Sara" (1 text)
MWheeler, pp. 40-41, "B'y' Sara Burned Down" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT, BAYOUSAR* BAYOUSA2
ST DTBayous (Full)
Roud #10010 and 4139
Art Thieme, "Bayou Sara" (on Thieme05)
The Burning of the Bayou Sara
NOTES [152 words]: As "The Burning of the Bayou Sara," this song is item dG39 in Laws's Appendix II.
Belden, who collected the version known to Laws, reported that a ship called the Bayou Sara burned at the dock on December 5, 1885. Mary Wheeler, however, reports that the name of the ship was the "City of Bayou Sara," built in 1884; she burned at New Madrid. All passengers were reportedly saved, though a few crew members died.
The versions of this song are extremely diverse in form (apart from the confusion that caused the ship to be called "The Bicera" by Belden's informant), and it's possible that there are two ballads involved. Laws, for instance, failed to identify Wheeler's text with Belden's, and Roud gives the pieces two numbers. But since the texts are all unique, I place them all here without rendering a final judgment on the matter; this may be just a piece that went through a lot of blues metamorphosis. - RBW
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