Welcome to Arizona’s real Katie Lee Web Site
KATIE’S HISTORICAL DISCOGRAPHY
SPICY SONGS FOR COOL KNIGHTS | SONGS OF COUCH AND CONSULTATION
LIFE IS JUST A BED OF NEUROSES | THE BEST OF KATIE LEE
FOLK SONGS & POEMS OF THE COLORADO RIVER | LOVE’S LITTLE SISTERS
COLORADO RIVER SONGS | TEN THOUSAND GODDAM CATTLE
FENCED! | HIS KNIBBS AND THE BADGER | GLEN CANYON RIVER JOURNEYS
COLORADO RIVER SONGS (AGAIN!) | FOLKSONGS FROM THE FIFTIES
ARIZONA KILLER | MAUDE, BILLY & MR. D – A FOLK OPERA
LOVE SONG TO GLEN CANYON | THE LAST WAGON
–In Order of Their Publication–
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!) The album became a cult success, aided by the extraction of the track “It Must Be Psychological” that appeared in a worldwide commercial campaign for Lynx deodorant.
It was done in Hollywood in two sessions with Bob Thompson arranger and director; Bud Freeman, now with his own label 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 psychobabble 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 my previous record. Ray Martin was the arranger-conductor. It was recorded at Victor Studios, NYC. I play guitar on two cuts. Songs from the albums above were compiled into a CD and released by Katydid Books and Music.
A compilation CD of Katie’s first three albums is now titled Songs of Couch and Consultation. .
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. [NO LONGER AVAILBLE]
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 (and ignorant) response from well-known author Frank Waters stands out: “To me it seems natural that there aren’t any songs or histories. 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.”
[Available as a custom CD, cassette or individual song downloads only from Smithsonian Folkways HERE…]
LOVE’S LITTLE SISTERS
– Katydid Books & Records – 1975
Recorded at Mickey Hart’s (Grateful Dead) Studio in Novato, CA. This is a recording of great songs about the early American ‘ladies of the night’, a 45-minute show Katie was doing in concerts. It includes two famous folk blues, “The House of the Rising Sun” and “Sisters of the Cross of Shame.” Some composers, other then myself: Harry Nilsson, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Paxton, Travis Edmonson.
COLORADO RIVER SONGS
– Katydid Books & Music – 1976
Had to change the title of my company since nobody made records anymore. After a sight altercation with Mr. Asch, 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 three songs from the old record and added three songs. Cassette is no longer available. Now there’s a CD, with more songs added (see below).
TEN THOUSAND GODDAM CATTLE
– Katydid Books & Records – 1977
Twenty-eight songs from my book of the same name, 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. Recorded at Mickey Hart’s Studio in Novato, CA. The sessions lasted nearly a week.
– Katydid Books & Music – 1978
Some of the best songs I’ve ever sung. Lonesome, sad-happy-funny songs, so Western you can hear the chaps flap. These cowboy-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, and a couple by me.
HIS KNIBBS & THE BADGER With Ed Stabler
– 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-known for their melodies.
GLEN CANYON RIVER JOURNEYS
– 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.
COLORADO RIVER SONGS (AGAIN!)
– Katydid Books & Music – 1998
The old, the very old, and the new river tunes. All nineteen of them by river rats and songwriters. My “Wreck-the-Nation Bureau” is on this CD. I treasure Ed Abbey’s quote from one of his 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).
FOLKSONGS FROM THE FIFTIES
– 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.
ARIZONA KILLER one-song
– Katydid Books & Music – 2009
I’d just returned from a gig at Telluride Mountainfilm Festival 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.
(Full story about this song HERE)
In 1956, I read an intriguing Western short story in the Saturday Evening Post, “The Rider on the Pale Stallion”, by Helen Eustis. In 1990, I transformed it into lyrics and music and gave it a different title. I consider it my best work; and performed it many times in concert to a spellbound audience.
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.
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.
LOVE SONG TO GLEN CANYON DVD
– Katydid Books & Music – 2007
Images, words, songs and photographs 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.
Discover why Pulitzer Prize author Wallace Stegner called the canyon, “The most serenely beautiful of all the canyons of the Colorado River.” And why Sierra Club founder, David Brower, called the drowning of this national treasure, “America’s most regretted environmental mistake.”
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.
Gail and Bill were in their 80’s when Western musicologist and folksinger, Katie Lee, filmed them in Prescott, Arizona at Simon’s Horse Camp and in the old house where Gail was born. She drew out their anecdotes, humor and philosophies and their sense of place in a West long vanished.
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 Katie Lee.
Amusing sidelight from Katie Lee: “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…’ Should have been ‘bawling.’ When I called my proofer on it, he responded: “Well, they do – look at all of ’em up there.”
Anyone interested in learning more about Katie Lee or obtaining copies of her works can contact the Cline Library Special Collections and Archives at Special.Collections@nau.edu or 928-523-5551.