South Coast

Sam Eskin / Richard Dehr / Lillian Boss Ross / Frank Miller

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Nick Reynolds (vocal (solo on verses), guitar), Bob Shane (vocal, guitar), Dave Guard (vocal, guitar), David "Buck" Wheat (bass) 10-6-00:
Album: THE KINGSTON TRIO FROM THE HUNGRY I (Original Capitol LP record release) T-1107 - 1959 Album: STEREO CONCERT (Original Capitol LP record release) ST-1183 - 1959 Album: EARLY AMERICAN HEROS (Pair Records CD record reissue of tracks previously available on original Capitol releases) - CDL-9417 -- (c)(p) 1984 Album: STEREO CONCERT PLUS (Folk Era Records CD re-issue of previously available tracks from STEREO CONCERT) CDFE2037 - 1989. NOTE: This recording contains some previously unavailable material. Album: THE KINGSTON TRIO / . . . FROM THE HUNGRY I (Capitol CD re-issue of previously available tracks from THE KINGSTON TRIO and . . . FROM THE HUNGRY I) CDP 7 96748 2 - 1991 -- TRACK TIME: (4:29)        
        ALL-TIME GREATEST HITS -- TRACK TIME: (N/A Album: EARLY AMERICAN HEROS (Pair Records CD record reissue of tracks previously available on original Capitol releases) - Catalogue# N/A -- (c)(p) date N/A Album: STRING ALONG (Original Vanguard CD release) 77009-2  - 1994 -- TRACK TIME: (4:33) Album: THE GUARD YEARS (Bear Family Records CD re-issue of previously recorded material) BCD 16160 JK - 1997 "The Kingsston Trio / . . . From the hungry i" (Collector's Choice Records) June 2001
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The following was Posted to the Kingston Trio Place Forum by Pete Curry on 3/3/2000, 11:09 pm .

As has been discussed here, the song "South Coast," which is credited to Lillian Bos Ross, Sam Eskin & Rich Dehr, was originally a poem by Ms. Ross (Eskin is credited with the melody; Dehr's contribution is unclear). I finally tracked down a copy of the poem. It appears in a book titled "Recipes for Living in Big Sur," published by the Big Sur Historical Society. The poem follows. If anyone can provide the lyrics as sung by The Easy Riders, whose recording preceded the KT's, I'd appreciate it. Pete Curry :

Ballad of the South Coast

My name is Lonjano de Castro
My father was a Spanish grandee;
But I won my wife in a card game
To hell with the lords o'er the sea.

In my youth I had a Monterey homestead,
Creeks, valley, and mountains all mine;
I built me a snug little shanty
And roofed it and floored it with pine.

I had a bronco, a buckskin­
Like a bird he flew over the trail,
When I rode him out forty miles every Friday
To get me some grub and the mail.

Chorus:
But the south Coast is a wild coast and lonely­
You might win in a game at Jolon,
But the lion still rules the barranca
And a man there is always alone.

I sat in a card game at Jolon;
I played with a man there named Juan.
And after I'd won all his money
He said, "Your homestead 'gainst my daughter, Dawn."

I turned up the ace, I had won her!
My heart which was down at my feet
Jumped up to my throat in a hurry;
Like a young summer field she was sweet.

He opened the door to the kitchen;
He called the girl with a curse;
"Take her, God damn her, you won her!
She's yours now for better or worse."

Her arms had to tighten around me
As we rode up the hills from the south.
But no word did I get from her that day
Nor a kiss from her pretty red mouth.

We got to my cabin at twilight
The stars twinkled over the coast.
She soon loved the orchard, the valley
But I knew she loved me the most.

That was a glad happy winter;
I carved on a cradle of pine.
By a fire in that snug little shanty
I sang with that gay wife of mine.

But then I got hurt in a landslide
Crushed hip and twice-broken bone;
She saddled up Buck just like lightning
And rode out through the night to Jolon.

A lion screamed in the barranca;
Buck bolted and fell on a slide.
My young wife lay dead in the moonlight;
My heart died that night with my bride.

They buried her out in the orchard.
They carried me out to Jolon.
I lost my Chiquita, my nino;
I'm an old broken man, all alone.

The cabin still stands on the hillside,
Its doors open wide to the rain;
But the cradle and my heart are empty,
And I never can go there again.

Oh, the south Coast is a wild coast and lonely.
You might win in a game at Jolon.
But the lion still rules the barranca
And a man there is always alone.

--Lillian Bos Ross

The the introduction below, and the comments on the right from singer Katie Lee, are drawn from the Casa Chia Library archives on Sam Erskin. -- kgerald

Kather Lee, has sung and recorded for more than 50 years and is acknowledged as one of the great singers and documentarians of cowboy songs and songwriters in America. She headlines cowboy poetry gatherings in Tucson and Prescott, Elko, and Ruidoso. She has a repertoire of over 300 cowboy poems, many of which she has set to music.

--Lucia C. Greer, Chia & Associates

Katie Lee:   At least fifty times I started to answer your letter, put it away in the "do" file and decided I'd already answered it until it turned up today -- again! I doubt that it's really important since I never met Sam, only heard Harry Dick Ross talk about him many times since he was the one responsible for the final and very beautiful melody to Shanagolden's "South Coast" (originally "The Monterrey Coast"), Harry, Eve (Henry Miller's ex-wife) Emil White and I used to sit around and try to sing it back to the melody they first used just shortly after Shanagolden wrote the poem, which was "Goodnight Irene" if you can possibly imagine!  I'll always be grateful for Rich Dehr going up there and 'uncovering' the song as Sam wrote it, because it is far and away one of the greatest 'folk' melodies ever to come along. If Sam never did another thing in his life (which he did, and plenty!) he gave us a true marriage of lyric and melody in that poem. He should have had much more reward for it than I'm sure he got, except the satisfaction of knowing. He truly felt the essence of Big Sur.  I wish you all the best with this worthy project and thank Crow for putting you in touch. Keep them singing!

-- http://www.casa-chia.org/Sam/part2.html

barranca
(be-rāng´ke) also barranco (-ko) noun
Southwestern U.S..
1. A deep ravine or gorge.
2. A bluff.
[Spanish, probably of Iberian origin.]

The American HeritageŽ Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright Š 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from InfoSoft International, Inc. All rights reserved.

grandee
(grān-dę´) noun
1. a. A nobleman of the highest rank in Spain or Portugal. b. Used as the title for such a nobleman.
2. A person of eminence or high rank.
[Spanish grande, from Latin grandis, great.]

The American HeritageŽ Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright Š 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from InfoSoft International, Inc. All rights reserved.

Jolon, to rhis day, is in the heart of one of the most remote, undeveloped, regions of coastal California.

Where is Jolon?

A note of interest on Jolon, CA Jolon is the primary setting for Steinbeck's early mythical novel To a God Unknown (1933).
Covers by other artists    
Artist's Name ALBUM CATALOG NO.
Jaime Brockett North Mountain Velvet [1974]  
Bud and Travis    
Ramblin' Jack Elliott Hard Travelin' [1989]  
  Talking Dust Bowl Blues  
  South Coast [1995]  
Terry Gilkyson and the Easy Riders Marianne/Wanderin' COL-CD-6053
Arlo Guthrie Son of the Wind [92]  
Michael Martin Murphey Peaks, Valleys, Honky Tonks & Alleys [1979]  
Tom Russell Song of the West: The Cowboy Collection [1997]  
Doc Watson Third Generation Blues [1999]  

 

South Coast
Chorus:
South coast, the wild coast is lonely. You may win at a game at Jolon
But the lion still rules the barranca and a man there is always alone.

My name is Juan Hanno de Castro. My father was a Spanish grandee.
But I won my wife in a card game. To hell with the lords o'er the sea.
I picked up the ace. I had won her. My heart which was down at my feet
Jumped up to my throat in a hurry, like a warm summer's day she was sweet.

Chorus

Her arms had to tighten around me as we rode up the hills from the South.
Not a word did I hear from her that day or a kiss from her pretty red mouth.
We came to my cabin at twilight. The stars twinkled out on the coast.
She soon loved the valley, the orchard, but I knew that she loved me the most.

Chorus

Then I got hurt in a landslide with crushed hip and twice broken bone.
She saddled our pony like lightning. Rode off in the night all alone.
The lion screamed in the barranca. The pony fell back on the slide.
My young wife lay dead in the moonlight. My heart died that night with my bride.

Chorus

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Last revised: March 30, 2006.