SPICY SONGS FOR COOL KNIGHTS
- Specialty Records. - 1956
I was in Miami, singing at Murray Freeman's Club. Bud Freeman - then working for the Specialty label--called from Hollywood asking if I'd be interested in making an album of folk songs. Wow! Would I ever! It was my first commercial record. I left for Hollywood as soon as my gig was over.

SONGS OF COUCH AND CONSULTATION
- Commentary Records - 1957
I can't believe that this was the second album I made, complete with a huge band and several fabulous musicians. (I'm a folksinger, after all - this spoof on psychoanalysis is more like musical comedy!) It was done in Hollywood in two sessions with Bob Thompson arranger and director; Bud Freeman--with his own label now wrote the lyrics--and Leon Pober, the music. In those days the famous musicians were under contract to the big companies like Victor, Decca, Columbia, and weren't supposed to be playing for others ; but many of them worked on the side as studio musicians. As long as their names did not appear on the record jacket it was cool. Our heady crew included Andrew Previn & Joe (Fingers) Car on piano; Howie Roberts on guitar; Red Callender and Red Mitchell on base; Shelly Mann on drums; Leroy Vinegar, and another big name I can't remember on sax. I know one of the musicians was June Christy's husband at the time. I play guitar on Hush Little Sibling and Gunslinger.

LIFE IS JUST A BED OF NEUROSES
- Victor Records - 1960
Victor Records decided they wanted to get in on the act, so they hired a bunch of popular songwriters to whip up some sick-psycho songs, then called me to do the singing. They'd obviously heard C&C. Ray Martin was the arranger-conductor. It was recorded at Victor Studios, NYC. I play guitar on 2 cuts.

THE BEST OF KATIE LEE - Live at the Troubadour
-
Horizon Records - 1962
Actually, the worst. This wasn't exactly the flowering of my musical career. Nobody could figure out (agents) who, what, where I was - or if, why, when I am. I'd played the Troubadour before, but this wasn't even my best gig there. Anyhow they decided to record it. The only good thing: I got Howie Roberts and Red Callender to come help me out on a few of the songs.

FOLK SONGS & POEMS OF THE COLORADO RIVER
-
Folkways Records - 1964
Compiled from my research of songs, and poems set to song, about this great river. Moe Asch of that famous folk label recorded me in their primitive New York studio and I prepared the eight page booklet of the history of these songs I'd been hunting down for ten years, adding some of my own that now are history as well. Many well known writers and river historians were contacted during that time; one amusing response stands out: "To me it seems natural that there aren't any. The river area has always been the least populated area of the country, and the people who have known it best are the Indians who don't sing in our tradition" Frank Waters.

[Available from Smithsonian Folkways HERE...]

LOVE'S LITTLE SISTERS CD
- Katydid Books & Records - 1975
Recorded at Mickey Hart's (Grateful Dead) Studio in Novato, CA. Basically, this is a recording of a 45 minute show I was doing in concerts; many great songs strung together with two famous folk blues--The House of the Rising Sun & Sister of the Cross of Shame. Some composers, other then myself: Harry Nilsson, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Paxton, Travis Edmonson.
[Available in Katie's Store HERE...]

COLORADO RIVER SONGS CD
- Katydid Books & Music - 1976
Had to change the Katydid logo - nobody made records anymore. After a sight altercation with Mr. Ash, since he was not pressing any more records, I got my copyrights back and elected to make a cassette tape for my river gang, of which I'd become a fast and furious member. I took out 3 from the old record and added 3 newer ones on the tape.
[Available in Katie's Store HERE...]

TEN THOUSAND GODDAM CATTLE CD
-
Katydid Books & Records - 1977
Twenty-eight songs from my book of the same name, recorded also at Mickey Hart's Studio in Novato, CA., for a double LP album, with Travis and Earl Edmonson who drove there with me. David Holt, with guitar, joined us on a few songs. The session lasted nearly a week.
[Available in Katie's Store HERE...]

FENCED! CD
- Katydid Books & Music - 1978
These Western Folksongs were recorded in my living room, with the help of one guitarist, David Holt, and one river rat, Lew Steiger on harmonica. Most of the songs were written by my two favorite songwriters - Tim Henderson and Tom Russell. A couple by me.
[Available in Katie's Store HERE...]

HIS KNIBBS & THE BADGER With Ed Stabler CD
- Katydid Books & Music
- 1992
After performing at many Cowboy Poetry Gathers Ed and I decided there were some wonderful songs in the poetry of famous turn-of-the-century poets, Henry Herbert Knibbs and Charles Badger Clark. We composed and set music to but two that were already well know for their melodies.
[Available in Katie's Store HERE...]

GLEN CANYON RIVER JOURNEYS CD
- Katydid Books & Music -
1998
Readings & Songs from my book, All My River Are Gone (now reprinted under the title Glen Canyon Betrayed.) Recorded in Jerome by Walter Rapaport, and in Prescott by Lew Steiger.
[Available in Katie's Store HERE...]

COLORADO RIVER SONGS AGAIN! CD
- Katydid Books & Music - 1998
The old, the very old, and the new river tunes. All nineteen of them by river rats and songwriters. I treasure Ed Abbey's quote on one of his famous postcards to me: "Anyone who loved the living Colorado River (pre-damnation by the swine who run America) will love these songs by pioneer Glen Canyoneer, Katie Lee).
[Available in Katie's Store HERE...]

FOLKSONGS FROM THE FIFTIES CD
- Katydid Books & Music - 2009
On Feb. 29, 1956, I opened The Gate of Horn coffeehouse in Chicago for Al Grossman. He had called me from my gig at the Blue Angel in New York, to share the opening bill with Luc Poret, a French nightclub star. I was there for 14 weeks and returned many times over the next few years. The songs on this CD are some of the ones I sang there. They were recorded on my "state-of-the-art" Concertone in February of 1955 for a Chicago friend, who recently sent me a digitized copy from the old 15" reel. Not bad! The lyrics for "My Chastity," which I made into a madrigal, were taken from the blackboard walls of the ladies restroom, at the old Dill Pickle Club, in Chicago--where I was being taken to lunch by Carl Sandburg.
[Available in Katie's Store HERE...]

ARIZONA KILLER CD
- Katydid Books & Music - 2009

I'd just returned from a gig at Telluride Mountainfilm Festival - where they showed a documentary DVD of my activism; trying to save our Colorado River and restore Glen Canyon - to be zapped back into my past with a force that has left me dazed.

Out of the blue I get an email from a guy named Bill who is a PhD student in rhetoric and a composition teacher at Carnegie-Mellon University. He tells me he saw this movie "3:10 to Yuma" and they played a verse from a song called The Arizona Killer. When he did a web search about the song, he found ME; and when I told him I'd never heard of the movie he thought I was pulling his leg. He wanted the song - all of it.

Backpedal about 53 years: Chicago--Palmer House Hotel - nice suite - Harry and Milton, his guitarist - me and my guitar taping it for Harry - last name Bellefonte. He never sang it, as far as I know, though Milton said he liked the changes in the rhythm. Other than for my coffeehouse or nightclub audiences, the only times I remember singing it for the media were on Studs Terkel's WFMT show sometime in the mid to late fifties, and maybe NBC-TV Telephone Hour. Old friend Josh White said something like, "Ah c'mon--he kills six dudes in a couple days? - that's too wild even for the Wildest West!". And Burl, who'd gone thru my warehouse of folksongs, picking material I could best use on the road, asked why I wrote it - or re-wrote it, as the case may be.

"Because I want my very own "One Hour Ahead of the Posse," I told him--a song that he'd recently recorded, and which I liked a lot.

"Not as classy as Posse," he said, "but at least you've given it some character with the music." The music I'd already composed for its sibling, The Tennessee Killer--found in Vance Randolph's, Folk Songs of the Ozarks - soooo, I rewrote it, added another verse, decided our western place names fit my music better than the Ozark ones, and quit singing about Tennessee altogether.

Lest you think I'm just name-dropping here, the object of this exercise is to show that none of these famous souls ever sang it and certainly never recorded it. Nor have I sung it for twenty years until this week. Now I can't get it out of my head!

But, I did record it on my Concertone--the cream of machines back in the 60's - and it does fit the movie, 3:10 To Yuma. I must commend these guys for using the one verse they used, and Tucker whose almost "singing" gives the song and the scene maximum effect.

Katie Lee
6-20-08

[Available in Katie's Store HERE...]

MAUDE, BILLY & MR. D - CD
- Katydid Books & Music - 1956 -1981

Way back in the mid fifties, I read a story in the Saturday Evening Post titled,"The Rider on the Pale Stallion", written by Helen Eustis, an author well regarded back then in the heyday of folk music and folk tales. Her story simply cried aloud for music and rhyme, so I began making it into a Folk Opera--writing lyrics and music, using the author's words in-between the songs to keep the story intact.

While I was performing at the Blue Angel in New York, and had almost finished the music, I looked her up. I played it on my guitar, sang it for her, and learned that her original title was Mr. Death and the Redheaded Woman; that it had been performed for Television--acted (no music) by Eve Marie Saint and Lee Marvin. She pronounced it "horrible," told me mine was the best treatment of her story yet, and encouraged me to finish it - which I did and began performing it in concerts throughout the USA.

 

Next thing I heard was from Marge and Gower Champion, back in Hollywood. They wanted to make a TV movie of her story using my music and lyrics. Now, the only way they could have known about my version was from Helen herself, but when we got to the table, they wanted my music and lyrics for free. Of course, by then I'd copyrighted both, so there was no way they could use it without my consent. They ended up acting the story, rather than dancing it. Once again Helen pronounced it, "Horrible." For more than ten years I performed Maude, Billy & Mr. "D" (the title I'd given my work) in concert; keeping audiences from three to ninety-three in spellbound silence.

 

In the mid 70's I recorded it, but still did not put it on the market; being intensely involved in writing a book about my years as an explorer in Glen Canyon; actively protesting the building of a dam that would kill the river and canyons I loved; performing all the while for cowboy poetry gatherings, ecological seminars, non-profit organizations, middle schools, Colleges and Universities.

 

I have always considered Maude, Billy & Mr."D" to be the best work of my entire musical career, bringing together the talents of composing-acting-playing-singing, in one non-stop, forty-two minute, performance, that was recorded at the height of my career. So... with my middle finger up in the face of blaring cacophony that's called "music" today, I have decided to make a Western Story in Melody, Rhyme & Prose available to those who want to take an intriguing journey by listening to a lovely Folk Tale with a philosophical concept that everyone can relate to.

 

Maude's Ride

Now Maude rode high and she rode low,
Through the sheep and the cow country, way down below.
She rode through the sheep country up on the hill
Where the lone eagle circles, so high and so still.

She rode through the Injun lands where the wind whines,
To the furaway mountains, through the yallerjack pines.
Her daddy's poor pinto stumbled over the boulders,
And Maude's red hair tumbled down o'er her shoulders.

The shadows so dark stole the light from the ground;
The hoot-owl and night critters gathered around;
A lean, hungry lion roared loud from its lair,
And the slip of a silver moon rose in the air.

 

[Available in Katie's Store HERE...]

VISUAL MEDIA:

LOVE SONG TO GLEN CANYON DVD
- Katydid Books & Music -
2007
Images, words and songs in a movie about my ten year exploration of a canyon now drowned beneath Powell Reservoir. Glen Canyon was an Eden unequalled anywhere on earth. The lesson to not let this happen to your Eden, wherever it may be, is the driving force behind this collection of 145 rarely seen photos.
[Available in Katie's Store HERE...]

THE LAST WAGON - DVD
- Katydid Books & Music - 1991
Presents two of the best known and loved songs of the Old West, sung by the cowboys who wrote them, along with their stories of how and why they did so. Gail Gardner wrote "The Sierry Petes" (Tying Knots in the Devil's Tail) and Billy Simon composed the music for Charles Badger Clark's famous poem, "The Border Affair" (Spanish Is the Loving Tongue) Filmed in Prescott, AZ at Billy's Horse Camp and at Gail Gardner's home.

This film received a Golden Eagle Award from the Council of International Nontheatrical Events (CINE) and was chosen to represent the USA in international motion picture events. Adapted from two chapters of my book, Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle; written, directed and narrated by me. It was filmed and edited by Harry Atwood and produced at the TV Bureau, University of Arizona.

[Amusing sidelight: I had to have 500 jackets for the VCR reprinted because my proof-reader missed a booboo in Jim Bob Tinsley's liner note. It went to the printer as: "A heartwarming tribute complete with authentic dialogue and the sounds of thundering hoofbeats, balling cattle and creaking windmills..." When I called my proofer on it, he responded: "Well, they do - look at all of 'em up there."]
[Available in Katie's Store HERE...]

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Sunday, April 6, 2014
 
 
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