Sunday, November 19, 2017

Katie Lee melds "Song of the Boatman" and "Cry of the Wild Goose"

Katie Lee loved the natural beauty of the Arizona canyons. She was a natural beauty, herself. 

Full frontals were not quite considered "natural" back then. At least, not for publication. Description was for publication: “It was hot as hell, and I was nude as marble.” 

With her "sick" and "novelty" days behind her, Katie was singing for Folkways, and the track below, from 1964, is...well, come to think of it, not completely "innocent." It's called "The Song of the Boatman," and Katie recalled:

"“You’re supposed to fall in love with your boatman, and I did. And sometimes the boatman falls in love with you, and he did. So I wrote this song of the boatman to the tune of “The Cry of the Wild Goose” by Frankie Laine.” 

She meant SUNG by Frankie Laine. The eccentric "Goose" was hatched by Terry Gilkyson in 1950. Terry would strike gold with his group The Easy Riders in 1956, via "Marianne." 

Years later (actually, she was 95 at the time of the interview) uninhibited Katie told an interviewer, “The first thing I say when I get up in the morning is my favorite word: FUCK! It feels good. It’s a great word. I am probably best known for my bad mouth and my activism. I wish I were recognized more for my writing, because I don’t think my writing is bad at all.” As mentioned above, she wrote many books,  mostly about the rivers and canyons of Arizona, and the preservation of them.

She was a nature girl: “I was outdoors all the time. My dad, when I was 12 years old, bought me a Remington shotgun, and taught me how to use it, how NOT to use it and how never to use it…” If she shot animals, this Annie Oakley sharpshooter did it for food: “I used to shoot the heads off quails.” No suffering with Katie behind the rifle.

The "folk tradition" as Bob Dylan, The Weavers, the Kingston Trio and others would happily insist, meant that nobody owned "traditional" songs. They could be freely adapted. This was fine back when there was no such thing as radio, and there were no unions and rights organizations tallying up the sales of sheet music. This was also acceptable when immigrants from Scotland, Ireland and England came to America and Canada, and adapted their melodies to circumstances of their new land. Hence: "Farewell to Nova Scotia," "Sweet Betsy from Pike" or "Flora, The Lily of the West." 

Chances are, had "The Song of the Boatman" actually been a hit, Mr. Gilkyson would've come calling, with a lawyer, requesting a share of the profits. And rightly so. But, like daughter like father. Terry's daughter Eliza wrote a song called "Paradise Hotel," and during an instrumental break added (oh, Matthew...) the infamous organ part that begins "Whiter Shade of Pale." 

Song of the Boatman, melody based on Cry of the Wild Goose - listen online, download, no passwords, no spyware crap, no bastardly Russian companies involved

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