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March 22, 2007

Well I'll Be Darned

You know...sometimes I don't give New Mexico enough credit. One of the things I enjoyed growing up was the sort of slow quiet desert way about New Mexico. I was firmly entrenched in the small backward ways of my home while also silently making plans to grow up and live somewhere else. I always thought living in a big city would be better. Then, towards the end of my college career at NMSU, I thought I wanted nothing better than to live in New Mexico the rest of my life.

As fate would have it, my job situation worked out to move me to the Bay Area. I was now as an adult living in a major metropolitan area. And as much as I enjoy living here, I long for the slower, easier ways of New Mexico.

But again, I often don't give New Mexico enough credit for it's deep cultural roots, not just Hispanic and Native American, the culture of America.

I was humbled, again, today as I hit the New Mexico Magazine website. On the front page they have a poll. You are asked to vote for the song that will go down as the best by a New Mexican. Ok, so I expected to see some hokiness. A couple Nelson Martinez songs or maybe Jim Glaser and his "Lights of Albuquerque" (a song which, honestly, makes me cringe a little).

But I have to apologize to my fellow artistic New Mexicans because there are a couple of my all time favorites on this list. Then again...some of these folks can *barely* be called a New Mexican. I tend to get pretty strict on that score...I prefer natives over movers in, but I guess I can't get too fine on this point. I'm going to just feel proud that our fair state is somehow associated with these fine musical works.

Here's the list:

"The Bare Necessities" by Terry Gilkyson

This is a great sing along song. Gotta love Baloo in the Jungle Book, deep voiced (Phil Harris lent his voice to the character) and crazy dancing along. A simple happy upbeat tune. Written by Terry Gilkyson, a very well known musician from the 1950's as a member of the Easy Riders. Mr. Gilkyson retired in the later part of his life to Santa Fe. So while not a native, we'll gladly claim him as our own.

Now when I jig around the house singing this one, I'll have peace in my heart that it's a part of my New Mexican heritage.


"By the Time I Get to Phoenix" by Glenn Campbell

Ok, this one blew me away. Glenn Campbell is one of my all time favorite musicians. I love everything he's ever written. "Still Within the Sound of my Voice" is a song that breaks me up every time. Ol' Glenn can only tangentially be called a New Mexican. From a brief web search I found that while about age 16 (in 1953) he played with an uncle's band in Albuquerque, so I am not sure we can claim him. But it's a fun tidbit to know that part of his career passed through our fair state. My mom lived in NM in the 50's as a young woman...it's cool to ponder maybe she saw him play at some bar in downtown Albuquerque while having drinks with friends. She wouldn't remember, but I can dream, right?


"A Holly Jolly Christmas" by Burl Ives

What!?!?!? Burl is quintessentially Christmas to me! He voiced Sam The Snowman in that stop action animation "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer" in which he also sang "A Holly Jolly Christmas". The Wikipedia about him says he used to sing "There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" at every concert. That is a TOTAL childhood favorite. Was singing it not five days ago...

Man oh man. Burl. An American treasure. As for the New Mexico connection, I found an interview with his widow that made mention of them living in our great state. Ok, fair enough. Burl, you're in!


"King of the Road" by Roger Miller

Almost wept with joy to see this one on the list. Hands down, Roger Miller and his music holds a deep, special place in my heart. Most of his tunes evoke a particular memory for me, and usually a good one.

His wacky lyrics sometimes overshadowed the fact that he was an absolutely incredible musician. I adore me some Roger Miller. I sing all his stuff in as loud a voice as possible. Loudly and badly. Oh yeah. I couldn't really find the link between Mr. Miller and New Mexico, but far be it from me to argue with New Mexico Magazine.


"Singin' in the Rain" by Nacio Herb Brown

An all time great movie moment from a top ten fave movie. Watched it again maybe three or four months ago. Gene Kelly moving effortlessly through the rain. Debbie Reynolds was never better. Donald O'Connor in my opinion steals the movie from both Debbie and Gene. Adore the movie. Adore the song.

And of all on the list, he's a true New Mexican. Born Ignacio Herb Brown in Deming, his family moved to LA when he was five. But he's one of ours, no two ways about it.

Another fact I never knew. "Singing in the Rain" written by a native son.

And because of that, Nacio got my vote.....(and when I voted I got the see the results so far. Nacio is leading the pack. Go New Mexico!!)

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All content of Oh Fair New Mexico by Karen Fayeth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.