Santa Barbara Earthquake, The
DESCRIPTION: "Way out in California, among the hills so tall, Stands the town of Santa Barbara." Around daybreak, "the hills began to sway." Women and children scream; the people pray. The conclusion: "It's just another warning, From God up in the sky."
AUTHOR: "Carlos B. McAfee" (Carson J. Robison)
EARLIEST DATE: 1925 (recording, Vernon Dalhart)
KEYWORDS: disaster warning
June 28, 1925 - the Santa Barbara Earthquake
FOUND IN: US(Ap)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
MHenry-Appalachians, pp. 86-87, "The Santa Barbara Earthquake" (1 text)
Cohen-AFS2, pp. 666-667, "The Santa Barbara Earthquake" (1 text)
Vernon Dalhart, "The Santa Barbara Earthquake" (Columbia 15037-D, 1925)
NOTES: There are several earthquakes on record affecting Santa Barbara, California, the earliest being in 1806, when it was little more than a mission in what was then Mexico.
It seems clear, however, that this song refers to the earthquake of June 1925, which was quite recent at the time this song was first collected. (I would bet a lot that there was a 78 recording of this song, though I haven't located it. According to the Old-Time Herald, Volume 11, #10, April-May 2009, p. 28, Bascom Lamar Lunsford on August 27, 1925 recorded "The Fate of Santa Barbara," but I don't know if that is this song.)
The earthquake has been estimated at 6.3 on the Richter scale. As the song says, it happened around dawn, before the workday started -- which was very fortunate, since damage in the large buildings of the commercial district was severe, but most of the houses suffered relatively slight damage. Casualties, as a result, were slight -- only thirteen people killed. They probably would have been worse had workers been crowded into the (large, hard-to-escape) commercial buildings.
The garbage at the end makes me wonder if the song isn't by Andrew Jenkins; it has something of his style, and the earthquake happened in the period when he was writing a lot of topical songs, sometimes by invitation of record executives. The author declares that the earthquake was a warning. A warning of what? Lousy songwriters? - RBW
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