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Out in the Great Northwest

December 27th, 2019
songs  [html]
One of the songs my family would sing growing up was "Out in the Great Northwest" (mp3, 2011 recording). For me, the point of the song was the verse:
A Scotsman went out there to live, he called his house a "hoos".
They showed him a great big animal, they said it was a moose.
Out in the great Northwest! Way out in the great Northwest!
The Scotsman said, "Now, what the deuce! You say you call that thing a moose!
I'd hate to see a rrrat get loose!" Out in the great Northwest.
My cousin Valerie wrote up a score (pdf), and the full lyrics of our version are:
I'm going way out West to where the buffalo used to roam.
I'll buy a big ten-gallon hat and build myself a home.
Out in the great Northwest! Way out in the great Northwest!
For men are men out there I swear, they wrestle with a grizzly bear.
Punch his nose and comb his hair, out in the great Northwest.

They have a brand of climate there, that puts hair on your chest.
You take a great big breath and bust the buttons off your vest.
Out in the great Northwest! Way out in the great Northwest!
A lady by the name of Weeks, was fond of swimming in the creeks
But she forgot the mountain peaks, out in the great Northwest

A Scotsman went out there to live, he called his house a "hoos".
They showed him a great big animal, they said it was a moose.
Out in the great Northwest! Way out in the great Northwest!
The Scotsman said, "Now, what the deuce! You say you call that thing a moose!
I'd hate to see a rrrat get loose!" Out in the great Northwest.

There are so many fishes there, in every mountain brook.
You have to hide behind a tree to get to bait your hook.
Out in the great Northwest! Way out in the great Northwest!
The rabbits there are very sly, they never go to school, but my,
How those things can multiply! Out in the great Northwest!
I was trying to figure out where this came from, and I found it in the index of the Intercollegiate Outing Club Association's Song Fest (1948). Here are the lyrics as they appear in the seventeenth printing of the New Song Fest:

I'm going way out West to where the buffalo used to roam,
I'm going to try to settle down, and build myself a home. Out in the great Northwest, way out in the great Northwest,
Men are men out there, I swear, they wrestle with a grizzly bear,
Punch his nose and comb his hair, out in the great Northwest.

I'll wear a big ten-gallon hat, and pack around a gun,
I'll hunt ferocious bandits, and have a lot of fun.
Out in the great Northwest, way out in the great Northwest,
Men out there, they have no fear, they rope a wild and woolly steer,
Throw him down upon his ear, out in the great Northwest.

There are so many fishes there, in every mountain brook,
You have to hide behind a tree, to get to bait your hook.
Out in the great Northwest, way out in the great Northwest,
Rabbits there are very sly, they never go to school, but my,
How those things can multiply, out in the great Northwest.

And when they aim a gun at you, they aim right at your eye.
If they should miss you will live, if they hit you, you'll die.
Out in the great Northwest, way out in the great Northwest,
The reason why they shoot so fine is cause they practice all the time,
Shoot a nickel or a dime, out in the great Northwest.

A Scotchman, he came there to live; he called his house a hoose;
He saw a great big animal, they told him 'twas a moose.
Out in the great Northwest, way out in the great Northwest,
The Scotchman, he said, 'What the deuce you say you call this thing a moose,
I'd hate to see a rat get loose, out in the great Northwest!'

They have a brand of climate there that puts hair on your chest,
And when you take a breath, you bust the buttons off your vest.
Out in the great Northwest, way out in the great Northwest,
A lady by the name of Weeks was fond of swimming in the creeks,
But she forgot the mountain peeks, out in the great Northwest.

My grandfather Phil brought it back from the CPS Camps in Montana where he was smokejumping as a CO in the early 1940s, though, so it wouldn't have been via this book.

Looking for earlier references, I found a short newspaper clip from the Sunday December 6th, 1931, Ardmore Daily Ardmoreite:

High on a gigantic pole there a powerful magnifying broadcaster gives information and sings songs.
       One ends lugubriously 'Take me to the prairie and throw the soil over me, I'm only a young cowboy
       and I know I done wrong.' Another, 'When they aim a gun at you, they aim right at your eye. If they
       miss you go on living, if they hit you die.  Way out in the great northwest.'  Another song was
       about 'the days of old, when men dug for gold,' all very homelike.

I'm not sure why that's the piece they decided to quote; it seems to me to be one of the least interesting verses.

Looking more, I found a 1929 Columbia recording of Vernon Dalhart singing it. It lists J. E. Guernsey as the lyricist, and Floyd Thompson as the composer. It seems to have been reprinted on CD by the British Archive of Country Music (B.A.C.M. 17) in 2002, as track eight of Lindberg, the Eagle of the USA (WorldCat). I'm curious what it sounds like, and the CD seems to have other interesting things on it, so I've ordered a copy. We'll see!

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