Saturday, January 22, 2011

Music -- Different approaches to Don't Fenc(ing) Me In

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

"Don't Fence Me In" is one of the iconic songs of the Wild West; the quintessentially Singing Cowboy's ode to the open range and all the aspirations and cliches that that embodies.... it was popularized by Roy Rogers (my biggest childhood TV cowboy crush) years before I was born. Here's Roy (and Trigger) introducing it in the 1944 movie "Hollywood Canteen."

Far from originating on the prairies, the song was an early offering by the ultra-urban, ultra-urbane Cole Porter, who wrote it in 1934 for a movie that was never produced.

Over the years, there have been a zillion covers of the tune -- including this, on German TV, by Ken Curtis -- in his costume from his days as "Festus" on Gunsmoke.

Gunsmoke, and the Festus character, were popular in Germany -- one of the folks I would see at country and western festivals in Berlin affected the Festus look and went by the moniker Festus Junior.

Festus Junior at Berlin Country Music Messe 2008. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

Below -- a different take on the song by another ultra-urbanite, David Byrne:

1 comment:

bucko said...

Love this! Seeing the three wide-ranging examples allows one to see the essence of such a joyous song. I'd not seen the "Festus Junior" look before. A marvel!