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Witchi-tai-to
#1
Needed a little pick-me-up song to clear my head of work issues. This one is perfect and wanted to share.



Found history on the song and the words.
Witchi Tai To
WRITTEN BY Jim Pepper

Jim Pepper (1941 - 1992) was of Native American descent, from the Plains tribes of the Kaw and the Cree. He came from a family of "road men", the peyote priests of the Native American Church. He was also a jazz saxophonist, playing primarily tenor sax (but also soprano sax and flute), and as such he was one of the pioneers of fusion jazz, mixing rock, r&b, and jazz into a whole new sound. He played with the likes of Larry Coryell, Ornette Coleman, and Don Cherry. His playing was soulful, very much influenced by r&b, and his tone was incisive and penetrating. His style influenced later saxophonists like Jan Garbarek and David Sanborn. He died in 1992 of lymphoma.

In the mid '60s, encouraged by Coleman and Cherry, Pepper began experimenting with mixing Native American music and jazz, with interesting results. "Witchi Tai To" is a prime example of that blending, taking a peyote song he'd learned from his grandfather and putting it in a jazz setting. The song first turned up in 1969 on an album by the band he was playing with at the time, Everything Is Everything. But it's the 1971 version from his own solo album Pepper's Pow Wow that's the definitive version, starting with the peyote chant plain and unadorned, and slowly segueing into Pepper's beautiful, flowing sax line that sets the tone for the rest of the tune. In a way the song is anthemic, especially the parts based on that sax melody; you can imagine stadiums full of people singing that line with great power. Yet the song remains very simple in all it's elements. It's that simplicity and the spiritual intent behind the words, and the spiritual intent that fuels Pepper's performance, that gives the song it's power. The Kaw words are untranslatable now - Pepper said his grandfather never did tell him what they meant in English - but he sings them anyway, and adds English lyrics which emphasize the roots in the peyote ritual, especially speaking of the Water Spirit, who carries the visions brought by the peyote.

Lyrics

Witchi tai to, gimee rah

Hoe rah neeko, hoe rah neeko

Hey ney, hey ney, no way



Witchi tai to, gimee rah

Hoe rah neeko, hoe rah neeko

Hey ney, hey ney, no way



Water Spirit feelin' springin' round my head

Makes me feel glad that I'm not dead



Witchi tai to, gimee rah

Hoe rah neeko, hoe rah neeko

Hey ney, hey ney, no way



Witchi tai to, gimee rah

Hoe rah neeko, hoe rah neeko

Hey ney, hey ney, no way
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