The Abalone Song

Abalone Song sheet music

The Abalone song was composed in Carmel around 1907 by writer George Sterling and his friends. Abalone requires that it be thoroughly pounded for it to be edible. To relieve the monotony of the work, they sang this song while they pounded, making up verses as they went along. The rule was that the song must be sung while pounding abalone, but never at any other time. The song gained some notoriety beyond Carmel as Carl Sandburg included it in a music history book entitled The American Songbag.

The above verse is attributed to George Sterling himself, as are these two:

Oh, some think that the Lord is fat,
And some think he is bony,
But as for me, I think that he,
Is like an abalone. 

Oh, some drink rain, and some champagne,
And whisky by the pony,
But I will try a dash of rye,
And a hunk of abalone.

 Jack London wrote this verse:

The more we take, the more they make,
In deep-sea matrimony,
Race suicide will ne'er betide,
The fertile abalone.

Here are a few more by authors undetermined:

Oh some folks boast of quail on toast,
Because they think it's tony,
But I'm content to owe my rent,
And live on abalone. 

Oh mission point's a friendly joint,
Where every crab's a crony,
And true and kind you'll never find,
The clinging abalone. 

He wanders free beside the sea,
Where'er the coast is stony,
He flaps his wings and madly sings,
The plaintive abalone. 

We sit around and gaily pound,
And bear no acrimony,
Because our ob - ject is a gob,
Of sizzling abalone.

He hides in caves beneath the waves,
His ancient patrimony,
And so 'tis shown that faith alone,
Reveals the abalone.

This verse is unusual for making reference to the technology of the day:

I telegraph my better half,
By Morse or by Marconi,
But if the need arise for speed,
I send an abalone.

 And here are a couple of variations on the first verse presented:

Some live on hope and some on dope,
And some on alimony,
But our tom cat he lives on fat,
And tender abalone.

Oh some like ham and some like lamb,
And some like macaroni,
But bring me in a pail of gin,
And a tub of abalone.

Bill Englander of Carmel submitted these verses to the Toy Box:

Oh dream do I of pizza pie,
With extra pepperoni,
But it wouldn't be right to a Carmelite,
Unless it's topped with abalone! 

Oh some like Bach and some like rock,
And some like saxophoney.
But just give me a symphony,
And a plate of abalone! 

Former Peninsula resident Dwight Agan learned this verse in elementary school.

In Monterey, the people say,
They feed the lazzaroni,
On cockle shells and caramels,
And hunks of abalone.

Here's a modern verse from Monterey County's Chris Schott.

When I get old, I'll pray twofold,
To love, and not be lonely,
We'll see Carmel, and hope like hell,
For the return of abalone.

Of course, Mr. Toy had to get into the act:

My wife and me, to watch TV,
We just turn on the Sony,
And when we look, John Pisto's cook-
ing up some Abalone. 

In Carmel fog I like to jog,
On sand as white as bone-y,
Sometimes I'll pause for Sandy Claws,
Or bark for abalone!

The foodie crowd will boast so loud,
Of capers, wine, and goat cheese,
But I'll be fed on buttered bread,
And pan fried abalone.

In Monterey the squid they say,
Is tender as baloney,
But here I'll pound a little round,
Of tough old abalone.

Republicans, they love their guns,
Without them they feel lonely,
But when they try to tell me why,
I just say abalone.

The otters play in Carmel Bay,
On waves tourquoise and foamy,
Upon a rock they'll knock knock knock,
To open abalone. 

 And this verse by Sinclair Lewis has the final word:

Some stick to biz, some flirt with Liz,
Down on the sands of Coney,
But we by hell, stay in Carmel,
And whang the abalone!

Want to try?
Send your verses to Mr. Toy.
If they are reasonably good and in reasonably good taste, he'll publish them here.
Please give him your name so he can give credit where it is due.

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