Out in the Great Northwest

by jefftkjefftk3 min read28th Dec 2019No comments

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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:

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:

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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