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Lyrics for Star of Bannock - Utah Phillips

DigiTrad:
ALL THE TIMES YOU'RE GONE
ALL USED UP
CANNONBALL BLUES
DADDY, WHAT'S A TRAIN?
DUMP THE BOSSES OFF YOUR BACK (2)
GREEN ROLLING HILLS
HOOD RIVER ROLL ON
I BELIEVE IF I LIVED MY LIFE AGAIN
I REMEMBER LOVING YOU
I SAW MY COUNTRY'S FLAG GO DOWN
KID'S LIBERATION SONG
OLD DOLORES
ORPHAN TRAIN
PHOEBE SNOW
QUEEN OF THE RAILS
ROCK SALT AND NAILS
ROCKABYE BABY
STARLIGHT ON THE RAILS
THE DADDY SONG
THE EPILOGUE
THE GOODNIGHT-LOVING TRAIL
THE TELLING TAKES ME HOME
TOLONO
TOUCH ME
WEEPY


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GUEST,Rose 08 Oct 20 - 02:06 AM
cnd 09 Oct 20 - 10:28 AM
cnd 09 Oct 20 - 10:41 AM
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Subject: Lyrics for Star of Bannock - Utah P.
From: GUEST,Rose
Date: 08 Oct 20 - 02:06 AM

Searching for lyrics and background info for the song Star of Bannock by Utah Phillips.

Thank you.


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Subject: RE: Lyrics for Star of Bannock - Utah Phillips
From: cnd
Date: 09 Oct 20 - 10:28 AM

I can't find a recording of the song by Utah but here's a version by Rosalie Sorrels. Sorrels did sing a one verse that was different from those on the Utah Phillips album, so I've included them at the bottom.

I did, however, find a picture of the back side of an album (click) which included the lyrics. I've typed them out as best I can and confirmed with Rosalie's singing.

According to the Discog's entry, the original has a "double-sided lyric sheet and four-page discussion of the origin and background of each track," but unfortunately not every page of that was uploaded there, so if you want Utah's full origins of the song, you'll need that record. Fortunately, someone on Discogs is selling it for as little as $4, so you can have it without too much cost.

For what it's worth, Utah credits the song as a traditional song. He only ever released it on one album, El Capitan, and the song was not included on any compilation albums.

STAR OF BANNOCK
(trad.)

Under the lamplight's flickering gleam,
In the dirt of a dance hall floor,
The beautiful Star of Bannock flies
Never to shine no more.

She had a lover so good and true
In the East that she left behind;
She came to the West like so many do
Her name and her fortune to find.

Her fortune she found on the dance hall floor
Where her beauty would turn men's heads;
She was the queen of them all,
Now the beautiful star is dead.

She was young and lighthearted, she danced and she sang.
Played the game as she knew it--square;
She trusted her friends and never did think
That a bullet would find her there.

Now many an eye with tears is filled,
And many a laugh is stilled,
For the beautiful Star of Bannock lies
In a grave on a lonesome hill.

[verses sung by Sorrels but not Phillips]
Her beauty that once was pure and sweet
Was that of a maiden new in
Now lies in the dust at the miner's feet
A beautiful star is dead


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Subject: RE: Lyrics for Star of Bannock - Utah Phillips
From: cnd
Date: 09 Oct 20 - 10:41 AM

After a bit more searching, I've found that the song was much better known by another spelling: The Star of Bannack.

Here's a description of the song from American folk songs : a regional encyclopedia by Norm Cohen. I've included the lyrics from the book, even though they're substantially the same, as well as its synopsis of the song's origins.

Boom towns thrived and declined as new discoveries of gold were announced and as the old sites became depleted. Bannack, the first of the boom towns, had a population of about 500 in 1862. It changed its name to Bannack City in 1864, when the population reached 1,000. ...

The Star of Bannack
Her beauty that once was pure and sweet
As that of a maiden you wed,
Now lies in the dust at the miners' feet,
The beautiful Star is dead.

She had a lover so good and true
In the East which she left behind,
When she came to the West as so many do,
Her fame and fortune to find.

Her fame she did find on the dance hall floor,
Where her beauty would turn men's heads;
She was the queen of them all, but now
The beautiful Star is dead.

She was young and light-hearted, she danced and she sang,
Played the game as she knew it--square,
She trusted her friends and never did dream
A bullet would find her there.

Now many an eye with tears is wet,
And many a laugh is still;
For the beautiful Star of Bannack lies
In a grave on the lonely hill.

(According to Olive W. Burt, who published the preceding text.)

Hellen Patterson left her native Illinois in 1863 to come out to Bannack, Montana, to visit her sister. Behind her she left a sweetheart, Howard Humphreys, and the humdrum life of a small, midwestern Town. In Bannack, sweetheart and humdrum were soon forgotten. Hundreds of lusty men roamed the streets and crowded the saloons. Liquor, men, music, and gold proved too much for the pretty sixteen-year-old--and she was proving almost too much for Bannack, at least for the feminine population. Her freshness and charm soon made her the darling of the dance halls. She changed her name to Nellie Paget and decided to remain in this unwholesome atmosphere.

On the night of 20 April 1864, Nellie was shot by a rejected lover while she was dancing with her newest flame. The story of his errant sweetheart reached Howard Humphreys' ears, but he would not believe it. Old-timers of Bannack tell how in 1917 an old man came into town, asked where Helen Patterson was buried, and made his way to the rude pile of stones on the hillside that marked the girl's grave. Some of those who were watching said that, as the old man stood with bowed, uncovered head, tears fell upon the stones piled there. "The Star of Bannack" was popular among Wyoming cowboys for forty years ago [i.e., in the 1910s]."


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