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.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1914 (Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety)
KEYWORDS: ship river fire death disaster
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety, pp. 423-424, "The Burning of the Bayou Sara" (1 text)
Wheeler-SteamboatinDays, pp. 40-41, "B'y' Sara Burned Down" (1 text, 1 tune)

ST DTBayous (Full)
Roud #10010 and 4139
Art Thieme, "Bayou Sara" (on Thieme05)
The Burning of the Bayou Sara
The Bicera
NOTES [175 words]: As "The Burning of the Bayou Sara," this song is item dG39 in Laws's Appendix II.
Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety, 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-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety's informant), and it's possible that there are two ballads involved. Laws, for instance, failed to identify Wheeler's text with Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety'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
File: DTBayous

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2021 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.