Columbia Bay Wav

John Curtis Anderson
Written by John Curtis Anderson


Columbia Bay

A tragic ballad and my most complex and perhaps best story. A young man is in the US Navy in 1852 and has left his fiancé back home in Boston - story starts as he is writing her a letter on June 28th 1852 where he tells they are sailing into Portland, Oregon after almost crashing on the rocks off the coast of Oregon in a storm - the wind just stopped just before they hit the coast and he is feeling very lucky. He is thinking of her safe at home in Boston and sitting in front of the fire taking it easy. Second verse picks up in 1853 with him writing a letter to her - he explains they just came off of a tour on the Barbary coast of San Francisco where they got caught in a fight and he gets wounded in the arm although he will be all right. He obviously has not received any mail since he has been at sea because the Captain says the mail might catch them in the next couple of months. He tells her he dreams of her most nights and again he is comforted that she is safe, warm and well at home in Boston. The third verse is 1854 as they are sailing into Boston Harbor (Boston’s Door) and he can’t believe it but the mail never caught up to them. When the long boats come to shore he does not see his love - just her older brother with a look so sad in his eye - there he finds out his love died on June 26, 1852 of pneumonia. The irony of the story is 2 fold - he is so comforted by her being safe and warm at home while he is at sea and fighting storms and pirates when in fact she died 2 years ago - the second irony is that she died on June 26, 1852 - a day or so before his ship was caught in the storm and almost crashed on the Oregon coast - the inference is that his dead love roared overhead as an angel and stopped the wind and saved his life and his ship - although when he returns home safe and finds her dead - he wishes he died on the rocks. A side note - my daughter was born on June 26, 1988 - 10+ years after I wrote the song.


                      Columbia Bay

Words & Music by John Curtis Anderson         © 2011 John Curtis Anderson

Verse 1

The Wheels of her past                        had broken off her mast

When she sailed into Portland town     on the twenty eighth of June

1852                                                    as I write home to you

We’d just escaped from a storm that caught us outside of Columbia Bay

Well If I’d had to guess                         I’d bet I’d be at rest

But somehow the wind just stopped before we hit on the Oregon coast

But you’re safe in Boston town            & I’m glad that you weren’t around

It must be nice just to take it easy and to sit home in front of the fire

Verse 2

1853                                                   As I write home to thee

We just come off of the Barbary Coast was exactly like they said it would be

We were locked in a fight                   & I was wounded with a knife

But don’t you worry I’ll soon be well & my arms just stiff for a while

I trust you’re well and do write            & I dream of you most nights

The captain said that the mail might catch us in a couple of months at the most

But you’re safe in Boston town          & I’m glad that your weren’t around

It must be nice just to take it easy and to sit home in front of the fire

Verse 3

1854                                                          We were sailin’ into Boston’s door

I can’t believe it but our mail never caught us and we’re comin home from the sea

But when we brought the long boats in      & I didn’t see your grin

And all that waited was your older brother with a look so sad in his eye

She died 2 years before                            of pneumonia’s deadly war

1852                                                         on June 26

If I could have seen today                         & If I’d had my way

You all could find me in the rocks & water on the bottom of Columbia Bay