VINTAGE
SONGS
OF
YOSEMITE

By 
Tom Bopp 

"In the Sierra I sang and 
whistled [the songs of 
Robert Burns] to the 
squirrels and birds, and 
they were charmed out of 
fear and gathered close 
about me." 
--John Muir

 

(78rpm record) Glenn Hood sings
"Home On The Range" 

     Scribbled on a piece of Camp Curry stationery, dated 1915, is a note from one L.G. Nattkemper, which he had pinned to a copy of his poem "Toot Your Horn For Camp Curry". It reads "...a talented musician set this to music and it is to be sung tonight. It sure sounds catchy & dandy." The "talented musician" was Glenn Hood, who shows up on Curry concert programs as "Camp Curry's popular singer." 
     I'm still looking for the original sheet music to Hood's "Toot Your Horn For Camp Curry" (its object was to encourage motoring in Yosemite, and I'd say the song was a huge success)--my performance is from a photocopy from the Yosemite Museum Collection.

     Glenn Hood's own performance of an early version of "Home On The Range" appears at the end of "Vintage Songs." Here's a message from Glenn Hood, himself (from the 78 r.p.m. record, pictured above).

(1915) "Toot Your Horn For Camp Curry"

(1928) "The Fire Fall Song"

     Following his 1927 description of the firefall, noted music critic Redfern Mason declared, "...what would we not have given, if a fine trombone player had sung the great motive from 'The Flying Dutchman' or if a chorus of women's voices had sung 'Lift Thine Eyes' from the 'Elijah'." Three examples of what actually did accompany the firefall are presented on "Vintage Songs", the most enduring of which was "Indian Love Call", on this recording featuring a re-creation of the "firefall-calls" with my dad, Ray Bopp.
    I've been told by various eyewitnesses that such songs as "Pale Moon", “Tumbling Tumbleweeds”, and "When It's Twilight On The Trail" were also sung, at times, for the firefall, and suspect that there were probably many others before they settled on "Indian Love Call".

     From 1949 to 1968, Ginny and Glenn Willard (a.k.a. Ginny & Keith Bee) directed the entertainment for the Yosemite Park & Curry Co. Willard's "Valley Singers", which reached 120 members at its peak, was comprised of Standard Oil, Curry, and Park Service employees. An excerpt from an early 1950s performance ("Down In The Valley") precedes one of their war-horses, "Let The Fire Fall", a tune that, according to Willard, the composers hoped would become famous.

(1951) "Let The Fire Fall"

(1910) "Legends Of Yosemite..."

     "Lost Arrow Trail" and "Spirit of the Evil Wind" (one of five songs from "Legends Of Yosemite In Song And Story"), included on the album, are examples of a sizable body of music, poetry, and art, inspired by once popular stereotypes of Native Americans and applied to Yosemite. 
     The earliest known Yosemite piece, "Yosemite Waltzes," came to my attention after "Vintage Songs" was completed.

For videos, CDs and cassettes pertaining to Yosemite history and music, please visit the MUSIC SHOP

     To see the most popular (and 2nd oldest) Yosemite song, the most eye-catching sheet music covers, and an audio clip of Yosemite's best-remembered Ranger/Naturalist, please go to Page Three. 
 

(1872) "The Yosemite Waltzes"