“Yuba Dam”

Author: William D. Hall (according to Spaeth, _A History of Popular Music in America_, p. 611)
Earliest date: 1899 (recording, S. H. Dudley); Spaeth lists it as a major composition of 1898
Keywords: jealousy infidelity marriage accusation questions humorous wife judge wordplay
Found in: US(MW)

Description

Conductor asks the singer where he wants to go; he replies "Yuba Dam." Conductor beats him up. His wife scolds him, asks, "Where'd you get that load?" "Yuba Dam!" After more such troubles, he opines that "the town of Yuba Dam has no right on the map"

Long description

Singer is asked by train conductor where he wants to go, and replies "Yuba Dam." Conductor is upset, and beats him up. When he gets home, his wife scolds him, asks, "Where'd you get that load?" "Yuba Dam!" She slugs him; he flees. He returns the next day, not realizing he has a long blonde hair on his coat; she finds it and he leaves home. She sues for divorce; judge asks him, "What brought this all about?" "Yuba Dam!" he replies, and is jailed for contempt. He opines that "the town of Yuba Dam has no right on the map"

Notes

I assign the location thanks to Bob Bovee, whose father [uncle, according to the liner notes to Bob's album "The Roundup"] learned the song in Nebraska in the 1920s. After assiduous searching, I had been unable to locate a Yuba Dam, but a more recent Google search suggests that the congressional representative for the South Yuba River area is proposing that one be built. - PJS

Bob recorded this long enough ago that I have it on LP, but after many years of attending Bovee/Heil concerts, I can't recall ever hearing him sing it. (I won't swear to that.) Maybe Yuba Dam is still causing trouble. - RBW

Cross references

Recordings